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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Parents of Archana Kar, who is pursuing her MBBS in Ukraine, are an anxious lot since her mobile phone went switched off two days ago.

Archana, who hails from Bhadrak in Odisha reportedly shifted to a bunker from her hostel in Kharkiv city with 200 other Indian students two days back and since then no contact could be established with her as her mobile phone is switched off.

“I spoke with her on the first day of the war. But after the Russian forces launched strikes on Kharkiv, she along with other Indians were taken to a bunker by the Ukrainian military. They were forced to switch their mobiles off. So, we do not know how is she doing,” said a worried Urmila Kar, Archana’s mother.

There are videos flooded with such students pleading for help to the Indian government. Sai Saswat, an Odia student in Ukraine who has taken shelter in a bunker, said, “The Ukrainian forces are actually not helping us. In fact, they are not letting us leave the city as a revenge of India abstaining from the UNSC vote on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

“We are short of food and it is freezing here in the bunker. I do not know how many more days we can survive here,” he said.

Tension among the parents multiplied manifold after the news of an Indian student’s tragic death in Russian shelling in Kharkiv came to fore on Tuesday.

The victim was identified as Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar, a native of Chalageri in the Haveri district of Karnataka who was studying at a medical college in Ukraine, according to Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority.

Following the incident, India asked the envoys of both Russia and Ukraine to ensure "urgent safe passage" to Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and in other cities in the conflict zones.

The Kharkiv city is witnessing increasing fighting between the Ukrainian troops and Russian forces.

Earlier in the day, the Indian embassy in Ukraine asked stranded Indians in Kyiv to leave the capital city urgently. In an advisory, it asked the citizens to leave Kyiv by available trains or any other means.

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