Stranded in Ukraine, students upset over call for online lessons

Piyush Goyal, a medical student locked in the basement of an apartment in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv for the third day in a row on Saturday, is upset by messages sent by his professors to take online classes from Monday. Caught in the crossfire in a city that has witnessed explosions several times since the Russian invasion, Indian students awaiting evacuation say they are not being asked by their college authorities to ask them to attend classes in line.

Also read: “Remember this day whenever…”: Speech by the envoy to Ukrainian students bound for India

Heavy shelling by Russian forces has damaged nearby residential buildings and frequent airstrike sirens are adding to anxiety among them. “We are fighting for our safety and teachers have already started sending messages to stay present in online classes. Our study visa officer in Ukraine asked us to ignore the messages, but strict college rules require us not to skip any classes. University authorities should take note of these decisions made by the faculty,” said Goyal, who hails from Bareta town in Mansa district of Punjab. Goyal is a fourth year MBBS student at Kharkiv National Medical University.

“We came to Ukraine to study medicine. When the Indian Embassy issued an alert on February 13, the institute insisted that we stay and assured us that we would be taken care of. Even now, when a war has broken out, teachers are concerned about completing academic sessions when we are not in a mental state to focus on studies,” he added.

Lovekesh Kumar, another final-year student from the town of Maur in the suburb of Bathinda, expressed concern when Russian troops were seen entering the city of Kharkiv on Saturday morning. “It’s a complete mess here. Nearly 300 students, including my friends, are stuck near the Indian Embassy. The Indian authorities have not yet helped here. But a few agents started contacting us and asking for $300 to take us to Hungary,” he said.

Kumar was due to return to India after graduating from six years in April, but full-scale war jeopardized his plans.

“The shelling damaged a children’s hospital of our VN Karzin medical faculty. A blood bank was also damaged. I have 10 liters of water left and a supply of food for two days. It’s total chaos here. The Indian Embassy should accelerate its efforts to evacuate all stranded students to safer destinations,” he added.