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No reports of Indian students being kidnapped in Ukraine

Indian student Himanshu Yadav, 20, hugs his mother Shudesh, after arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport on a special flight from Budapest carrying stranded Indian citizens from Ukraine, amid the ongoing Russian invasion, landed in New Delhi, India, March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

After Russia accused Ukrainian authorities of forcefully detaining a large group of Indian students in the city of Kharkiv as “human shields,” India stated on Thursday that it has heard no information of its students being held prisoners in Ukraine.

The news: Since Russian forces invaded last week, the 1.5 million-strong city in northeast Ukraine has been one of the hardest hit by Russian attacks, and many Indian students have struggled to flee.

  • On Tuesday, a shelling in Kharkiv killed an Indian medical student.
Indian student Rohan Chajalana, 19, hugs his father Rishipal, 53, after arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport on a special flight from Budapest carrying stranded Indian citizens from Ukraine, amid the ongoing Russian invasion, landed in New Delhi, India, March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

What are they saying: “We note that with the cooperation of the Ukrainian authorities, many students have left Kharkiv yesterday,” said Indian foreign ministry spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi.

  • “We have not received any reports of any hostage situation regarding any student.”
  • Ukraine has also denied detaining Indian nationals.
Indian nationals exit Indira Gandhi International Airport, after arriving on a special flight from Budapest carrying stranded Indian citizens from Ukraine, amid the ongoing Russian invasion, landed in New Delhi, India, March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

What’s going on: Late on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone to discuss the safe evacuation of Indian students from Ukraine.

  • The Russian embassy in India claimed it was attempting to arrange for an immediate evacuation of a group of Indian students from Kharkiv to Russia via a “humanitarian corridor,” from which they would be flown back to India.
  • The Russian embassy has stated that the students are taken hostage by the Ukrainian security forces, who use them as a human shield and in every possible way prevent them from leaving for Russia.
  • According to Ukrainian government figures, Indians made up nearly a quarter of the 76,000 international students in Ukraine before the crisis began.
  • India has refused to denounce Russia’s invasion, though it has called for an end to the violence.
Indian national Sujoy Dutta, 23, working in Kyiv, hugs his mother and sisters after arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport on a special flight from Budapest carrying stranded Indian citizens from Ukraine, amid the ongoing Russian invasion, landed in New Delhi, India, March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
Indian student Bharat Satyawali, 21, hugs his mother Leeladevi, 42, after arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport on a special flight from Budapest carrying stranded Indian citizens from Ukraine, amid the ongoing Russian invasion, landed in New Delhi, India, March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
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