Indian medical students in Kyiv wait to hear sirens to retreat to university bunker
About 400 Indian students from Kyiv Medical University have huddled at the institute’s hostel since Thursday, expecting to retreat to the bunker as soon as the sirens go off in the middle of a possible takeover by Russian forces.
Fahad Rahman, a third-year medical student, said, “All students staying in nearby apartments have now moved to the university hostel. Last night (Thursday-Friday) we had no sleep as there were reports that Russian forces were targeting Kiev. We lay nearly awake, waiting for the sirens to go off.
Fahad, from Thiruvananthapuram, said that so far (Ukrainian time 9:30 a.m.) their premises in Kyiv “seemed safe”. “There was a curfew in the area from last night (Thursday) until 7am today (Friday). We heard multiple explosions around 4.30am. But after that the situation seems normal outside where there is public transport and normal traffic. There was total chaos until midday on Thursday after the attack on the Kyiv military airbase,” he said.
Fahad added, struck by the seriousness of the situation, that the university opened its hostel for all students who stayed in apartments. “We stayed awake most of the time during the night as we expected the sirens to go off. After midnight, tanks and Ukrainian forces moved along the road outside. There were rumors on social media that the Russians would invade the city early Friday morning, so we stayed at the hostel and waited impatiently. So far we are safe. We have a stock of provisions for two days, but we don’t know what will happen after that,” he said.
He added that the Indian embassy had told them to remain ready to move to Ukraine’s western borders. “But we don’t know how we could travel by road because the bombings can happen at any time. It will take at least 12 hours to reach the western border. Everyone kept their documents and a few essentials ready in their bags,” he said.
In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, another group of Indian students have been staying in a bunker since midday Thursday after Russian forces invaded the area. A student, Aiswarya Dilipkumar, said: “We can hear frequent shelling somewhere in the city. About 250 of us have been housed in an underground bunker since noon Thursday. When there was respite from the morning bombardments, we returned to our hostel rooms, but now, once again, we have been alerted to return to the bunker.
She added: “Our city was attacked from the start of the Russian invasion on Thursday. We were told to stay inside the bunkers. Even now (at 10 am Ukrainian time) we can hear shelling somewhere near our hostel. The bunker is a large store-like facility, where we cling to our lives.
Aiswarya also said that although the Indian government is planning an evacuation from the western border of Ukraine, many Indians staying in Kharkiv and other northeastern areas, which are bearing the brunt of the Russian invasion, would have hard to leave. “We don’t know what will happen if we venture out and do a road trip across the country. Amidst the shelling, we cannot think of a road trip,” she said.