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It’s a miracle to have survived war: Evacuated Indian students recall experiences

Fri, 11 Mar 2022   |  Reading Time: 2 minutes

New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) Indian students, who were stuck in beleaguered Sumy in northeastern Ukraine, said it was a “miracle” to survive the war and they were now “relieved” to have finally reached Delhi on Friday morning.

Dheeraj Kumar, a sixth year medical student in Sumy State University, said he was pleased to see his parents at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here. “We have gone through unprecedented challenges in Sumy. It was a terrible experience to survive the war for 13 days. To me, it looks like a miracle to have returned alive to my country,” Kumar told PTI as he touched the feet of his parents, who had arrived from Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba to receive their son.

Kumar also thanked the Indian government and the embassies in Ukraine and Poland for helping in their evacuation and safe return to India. “Our government supported us a lot. They did everything to bring us back. I am relieved to be back here,” Kumar said. Covering hundreds of miles across Ukraine using multiple means of transport, the students were evacuated from the war-hit east European country after their two weeks of excruciating stay in beleaguered Sumy.

After having endured a strenuous journey to escape the war-hit region, they were evacuated in the second attempt from Sumy, which has been witnessing a heavy shelling and intense gunfire ever since the Russian offensive on Ukraine began last month. Another medical student in Sumy, Mahima Rathi, a native of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, said they had to run to the bunkers every time the sirens blew. “Whenever the siren blew, we had to take shelter in bunkers. We were all very terrified as we never knew whether we will be able to survive and return safely. We are now at ease after returning to India,” Rathi said.

An Air India flight from Poland’s Rzeszow, carrying 240 students evacuated from Sumy, landed in Delhi on Friday morning. The aircraft took off from Rzeszow around 11.30 pm (IST) on Thursday and landed in Delhi at 5.45 am on Friday, officials said. India has sent three flights to Poland to bring back a big last group of 600 students evacuated from Sumy.

Another aircraft is expected to land in Delhi around 8.40 am, officials said. The Indian government is carrying out a challenging evacuation exercise under Operation Ganga to help stranded Indians leave Ukraine.

The operation to evacuate the 600 students from Sumy began on Tuesday morning.

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