Of the 20,000 Indians who were stranded in war-torn Ukraine, 6,000 have been brought back to the country so far and the Centre is making all efforts for the safe return of the remaining ones, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said on Wednesday.
He was speaking to reporters here on the sidelines of an event.
“There were around 20,000 students/citizens who were stranded in Ukraine. Of them, 4,000 were brought back to India before February 24. Additional 2,000 students were brought back to India till Tuesday and efforts are on to evacuate the remaining Indians stuck there,” he said.
Since the number of stranded persons is big, defence aircraft are being used to bring them back to India, Muraleedharan said.
With the help of Ukraine’s neighbouring countries Romania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, the students are being evacuated to India, he said.
The Union government has initiated ‘Operation Ganga’ to bring back Indians stranded in Ukraine.
When asked about Shiv Sena’s allegation that the initiative was named Operation Ganga keeping the Uttar Pradesh elections is mind, he said, “It is not a political issue. It is national issue. It is pertaining to the safety of Indian citizens. There should not be any objection to the name.”
In Pune, the minister met the parents of some children, who are stuck in Ukraine.
In a tweet posted after the meeting, the minister said, “Continuing my engagement with parents of students, who are stuck in Ukraine. This time in-person in Pune. Happy to hear them appreciate our efforts in rescuing Indians.”
He also said that the situation is being monitored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government is making all the efforts to bring back the Indians in a safe manner.
Sandip Gulunjkar, one of the parents who met the minister here, said his daughter has crossed the border and reached Romania.
“I raised the issue in the meeting with minister that students are getting harassed by the Ukrainian police at the border and their safety and security should be ensured, to which the minister assured the safe return of all the students and citizens,” he said.
Once the students cross the border and enter Romania, they are being provided facilities, the minister said.
Satish Nalawade, another parent whose daughter was stranded in Kharkiv, said that according to the minister, the government is concerned about the safety of all the Indian students.