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Pradeep Pattanayak

Each time a siren, followed by a deafening sound of explosion is heard in Kharkiv, Kyiv or any other city in Ukraine, the parents of those hundreds of Indian students, who are stuck in the war zone, or struggling to cross border, can feel the fears their wards are undergoing. 

As of now, many such students have already reached war-ravaged Ukraine’s neighbouring countries, such as Romania, Hungary and Poland, enduring a lot hardship. But their ordeal still persists as they are still waiting for their turn to board an evacuation flight. 

One such student is Jajnesh Mishra, son of Pradyumna Mishra, a resident of Puri town. Jajnesh, who was pursuing medical education in Ukraine, reached Romania three days ago and is now impatiently waiting for the moment to board an evacuation flight. 

Back in Puri town, Jajnesh’s family members, including his grandparents, are inconsolably weeping while waiting for their son’s return. “He is my only son. Our only wish is to see him amongst us as soon as possible,” said Jajnesh’s father. 

Similarly, the worried family members of Prerana Mishra and Chandrika Mishra, two girls from the Pilgrim city, Rashmiranjan Swain from Bhadrak town, Chandan Das from Jagannathpada in Bolangir town and Swayam Pradhan from Jaripada in Cuttack are anxiously waiting for their homecoming.

“I pray to Lord Jagannath for the safe return of my daughter,” cried Soubhagyalaxmi Mishra, Chandrika’s mother. 

Rashmiranjan’s mother Reetarani Swain requested the State and Central governments to bring back her son safely to India.

Meanwhile, there are some students who have already reunited with their families in Odisha, thanks to ‘Operation Ganga’.

Even the thought of the difficult times they spent  in Ukraine makes the fear visible on their faces.  

“To reach the border, we had to walk around 10 kilometres. The temperature would hover between minus three and five degrees. We faced a lot of hardship even at the border. Anyway, I have come out of that situation,” said Md Mohammed Jisan Ahmed, a resident of Rourkela. 

Manish Panda, who stayed in Kharkiv, has also returned home to narrate the horrific experiences he underwent there. “Had there been online class option, we would have returned earlier,” said Manish. 

Meanwhile, Operation Ganga has been intensified to bring back each of the Indians stuck in Ukraine or its neighbouring countries. While an evacuation flight carrying 183 Indians from Buchrest landed at Mumbai airport, C-17 Globemaster of Indian Air Force with 208 Indians on board touched ground at Hindan Airbase near Noida. Similarly, a special plane of Indian Air Force with Indians has flown from Budapest to New Delhi. 

Informing about the operation, Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, said, “The pace of Operation Ganga continues to accelerate. During the last 24 hours, 15 flights landed in India, bringing back more than 3,000 Indians.”

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