60% Of Stranded Indians Have Already Crossed Borders: Centre

The Central Government on Wednesday informed the Kerala High Court that 60 per cent of the stranded Indians in Ukraine have already crossed the borders and are safe.

Central Government informed this while the Court considering a plea filed by Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association (KHCAA) seeking a directive to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to take steps in repatriating students from Kerala stranded in Ukraine.
The government further said, “The government is also taking necessary measures to evacuate the remaining 40 per cent of the Indians by utilizing all its means. More than half a million Ukrainians and other foreign expatriates fled westwards from conflict zones to land borders of neighbouring countries. This extraordinary exodus of lakhs clogged land borders. A number of Indians were also therefore stranded and initially experienced inconvenience on the land borders, particularly the land border with Poland, where lakhs had begun gathering from February 25.”

“The reports of difficulties at the borders faced by some of our students, including insensitivity by border guards may be seen in the context of the situation in a war zone, and is also attributed to the overwhelming numbers, breakdown of systems and extreme weather conditions,” the government added.

The petition cited that the children of two KHCAA members were also stranded there. The petition alleged that Indians are facing mass discrimination and the reason for this is the lack of presence of representatives of the Indian Embassy.

The petition contended, “Students are to bear the entire cost and risk of travelling in a warzone to the nearest border. Indians are faced with mass discrimination and torture by the Ukrainian army and the border patrol. The army and the border patrol have been opening gunfire towards the sky and spraying pepper at these children to neutralize them.”

“Indians are also being made to wait for hours in the extreme cold weather, which has led to a lack of sleep and food for most of these students, while some of these children have fainted and hence these people are facing extreme hardships at the border. There is a requirement that a specific direction is issued to the Ambassador of India in Ukraine that immediate steps be taken to evacuate the students, including by facilitating assistance and protection at border crossings and ensuring safe transport of the students from their respective locations to the neighbouring countries from where their air travel is being arranged,” it added.

The petition further pointed out, “The Centre is empowered under the Emigration Act, 1983 and the rules made thereunder, and can make use of the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) and other measures, to take steps necessary to protect Indian citizens who are in distress/stranded abroad.” (ANI)

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