An Indian student was killed yesterday in shelling in Ukraine, the foreign ministry said as it urged Russia and Ukraine to secure safe passage for thousands of citizens stranded in the middle of war. 21-year-old Naveen Shekharappa, a final year medical student from Karnataka's Haveri, died when Russian soldiers blew up a government building on Tuesday.
"With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning. The Ministry is in touch with his family. We convey our deepest condolences to the family," tweeted the External Affairs Ministry.
With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning. The Ministry is in touch with his family.— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) March 1, 2022
We convey our deepest condolences to the family.
He added that Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla "was calling in the ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to reiterate India's demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals whoa re still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones". It is imperative that Russia and Ukraine respond to the need for safe passage urgently, said sources.
Foreign Secretary is calling in Ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to reiterate our demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones.— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) March 1, 2022
Similar action is also being undertaken by our Ambassadors in Russia and Ukraine.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the student's father and called his fourth meeting in three days on the Ukraine crisis. He had earlier despatched four ministers to Ukraine's border countries to coordinate evacuations.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, videos showed extensive damage from Russian military assault after it launched an invasion last Thursday. The central square of the city was shelled by advancing forces, who hit a government building, this morning.
Naveen Shekharappa was standing in a queue outside a grocery store when he was hit.
Pooja Praharaj, a student coordinator in Kharkiv, spoke to NDTV shortly after the student's death.
"He lived near the Governor's House and had been standing in the queue for food. Suddenly there was an air strike that blew up the Governor's House and he was killed," Ms Praharaj said.
A Ukrainian woman picked up his phone, said the student coordinator. "Speaking from his phone, she said the owner of this phone is being taken to the morgue," she shared.
This morning, the Indian Embassy advised all citizens, including students, to leave Ukraine capital Kyiv "urgently today, by trains or any other means available".
"The deteriorating situation in Kharkiv is a matter of grave concern. The safety and security of Indian nationals in that city is of utmost priority to Government," government sources said.
Satellite images showed a long convoy of Russian military vehicles on roadways northwest of Kyiv. Hundreds of tanks, towed artillery, armored and logistical vehicles can be seen in the images released by a US-based space technology company.
Around 16,000 Indian students are still stranded in Ukraine. Many students have shared photos and videos on social media from underground bunkers, metro stations and bomb shelters, where they have been hiding since the Russian attack started last Thursday. Around 9,000 Indian nationals have left by various special flights.
Several Indian students remain stuck in eastern parts of Ukraine, which is most affected by the Russian military offensive, and they are finding it difficult to travel by road to reach the western borders. Students have also been walking to the borders in sub-zero conditions, hoping to cross over and take a flight home.
Yesterday, the embassy had asked students to go to the railway station in Kyiv, where special evacuation trains have been arranged by Ukraine to take people to the western region.
Many students complained that they were not allowed to board the trains or they were mistreated by officials.
Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday after months of tension over the former Soviet republic's proximity to NATO.