‘We Just Wanted To Get Back Alive And Here We Are’
Srinagar- As war in Ukraine spreads to new areas, four more Kashmiri students, who managed to escape from the war zone landed safely at Delhi Airport from Romania on Thursday. They were part of a large group of Indian students who were evacuated under Operation Ganga launched to bring back stranded Indian students from Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Romania.
An Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster carrying more than 200 Indian students landed at Delhi in the wee hours of Thursday. The students, including four from Kashmir, were greeted with tears of happiness and hugs by the waiting relatives and friends.
Earlier, 18 Kashmiri students had landed at Delhi Airport in GOI’s special evacuation flights from Poland and Romania. 13 of these students were flown back to Delhi from Romania while 5 others were brought back from Poland.
Sheikh Shahid, a resident of Kulgam district and a second year medical student at Kharkiv National Medical College, was among these four Kashmiri students who returned to Delhi on Thursday.
“I landed in Delhi on Thursday morning at about 5:00 AM. Earlier, I had tried to leave Kharkiv, however, I couldn't as the war in Kharkiv city forced us to stay in shelters. I will always remember that day. It was horrifying. And today, I found out that my university building and my apartment building have also been damaged by falling Russian missiles,” 21 year old Shahid told Kashmir Observer.
Shahid said that he and his fellow Kashmiri compatriots had lost all hope of coming back alive.
“But, what kept us going in that dingy underground basement was Allah’s name and our parents' faces. We began our journey from the Kharkiv basement to the train station with the word Bismillah and then left everything to Allah. Perhaps, that’s why we are here, alive.”
As per Shahid all the food stores in Kharkiv had closed and only a few basement shops were open when they left the city.
"Since we started our journey to Moldova and then to Romania, we have had no food and water. All shops were closed. With a lot of effort, we found a few basement stalls but they too were emptied. Few leftover biscuits were there. Moreover, all the washrooms were also closed." Shahid recounted.
On February 27, the Indian embassy had issued an advisory asking students stranded in Kyiv to “leave immediately”. However, as per Shahid, there was absolutely no transportation made available to students.
“We had to travel to a train station that is four kilometers from our apartment shelter. We walked and then paid some hefty sum to the train driver at the station to take us along to Odessa. And in Odessa, we caught a local bus on our own and went to the Moldova border,” Shahid said.
“Because of heavy traffic congestion, the journey was more difficult for the students as their bus dropped them several kilometers away from the border. “We walked for like an hour to reach the Moldova border. On reaching, we had to wait for three hours for our passport check and then we caught another bus from the Romanian capital, Budapest. We reached the international airport on the morning of 1st March,” he added.
Shahid further added, “We’ve no grouse against anyone. It’s a bloody war, that’s in no one’s hand. However, there were some loopholes. We just wanted to get back alive and here we are all alive.” he said.
Now that Shahid is safely back home, one more worry lingers around his head, that is, of getting his degree. As he is a second year student, Shahid is worried about whether he will be able to sit for a KROK exam—a licensing examination in Ukraine and an obligatory part of state certification for awarding the qualification of doctor or pharmacist—if the war drags on.
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