Six days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India’s worst fears were realised when a 21-year-old Indian medical student was slain near the Russian border in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Tuesday, marking the country’s first war victim.
Naveen S G, a fourth-year MBBS student at Kharkiv National Medical University from Chalageri village in Karnataka’s Haveri region, was recognised as the victim by Indian officials. He was alleged to have died as a result of bombardment. However, a former dorm mate of Naveen’s in Kharkiv said that he was shot by the Russian army outside a grocery shop, citing other members of the student community there.
Meanwhile, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s foreign secretary, announced that all Indian nationals in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, had been evacuated.It is understood that some embassy personnel have already relocated to the new headquarters. The Embassy, which is located near the Presidential House and other vital buildings in Kyiv, will be completely withdrawn if the security situation in the city worsens.
Arindam Bagchi, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of External Affairs, had previously verified the student’s death. “We confirm with great sadness that an Indian student was killed in shelling in Kharkiv this morning.” His family has been contacted by the Ministry. “We send our heartfelt sympathies to the family,” he tweeted.Foreign Secretary Shringla told a late-night press conference that the circumstances surrounding Naveen’s death were “not quite apparent.” He claimed the corpse had been transported to a university morgue and that the government was working with local authorities to bring it back.
“(He) was shot dead at 10.30 a.m. Ukrainian time today,” Shridharan Gopalakrishnan, Naveen’s old dormitory mate, claimed. When the Russian army opened fire on civilians outside a grocery shop, he was in line. Initially, he was my hostel roommate, but he eventually moved to an apartment outside.”
The event heightened fears in New Delhi, since hundreds of Indians, mostly medical students, are trapped across Ukraine at a time when Russia has stepped up its attack in the east. It happened only hours after the Indian Embassy in the capital asked Indian nationals to leave “immediately today” — and a day after the government vowed to deploy four Union Ministers to oversee the evacuation operation.
According to official sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Naveen’s father, Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, a former private sector employee, on Tuesday evening. Naveen is survived by his mother Vijayalakshmi and older brother Harsha, who is pursuing a PhD, in addition to Shekharappa.
Modi met with President Ram Nath Kovind before Naveen’s death to inform him on the situation in Ukraine, particularly India’s evacuation efforts.
A team of Indian officials from Moscow is camping in Belgorod, a town on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia, to map possible escape routes and arrange housing and transportation for Indians trapped in Kharkiv and other combat zones, according to Foreign Secretary Shringla.
The first cargo of humanitarian aid from India to Ukraine, including medications, was transferred through Poland on Tuesday, according to the Foreign Secretary, and the following consignment will be sent on Wednesday.The Russian invasion has hit a crucial phase, according to the latest Indian Embassy statement issued Tuesday morning. “All Indian nationals, including students, should leave Kyiv as soon as possible today.” “Preferably by existing trains or any other accessible methods,” it stated. The abrupt shift in tone occurred in the wake of news that a large convoy of Russian tanks and military equipment was on its way to Kiev.
The government issued its first advice on February 15, advising Indian people to consider temporarily departing Ukraine. Around 12,000 of the estimated 20,000 Indians in Ukraine have departed the country since then, including those who were evacuated under Operation Ganga.
“Of the remaining 40%, around half are still in battle zones in the Kharkiv, Sumy area, while the other half have either reached or are approaching Ukraine’s western borders.” To put it another way, they are safe,” Shringla remarked.
Kharkiv, which is only 40 kilometres from the Russian border, has seen significant fighting in recent days. Due to a number of medical institutions in the region, it has one of the greatest concentrations of Indian students in the country, believed to be approximately 5,000.