Indian student killed, IAF to join evacuation
NEW DELHI, Mar 1:
In the first Indian casualty in the war in Ukraine, a medical student from Karnataka’s Haveri district was killed in intense shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv today.
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 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 Commissioner Manoj Rajan.
“With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter at 2:58 PM.
“The Ministry is in touch with his family. We convey our deepest condolences to the family,” he said.
Naveen’s uncle Ujjanagouda said he was killed when he stepped out of his bunker to exchange currency and fetch some food.
President of European Council Charles Michel spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed sadness over the death of the Indian student.
He said European countries are wholeheartedly helping in the evacuation of Indian citizens from Ukraine
The Ukrainian and Russian ambassadors were called into the MEA and were conveyed to ensure the safety of the Indians stranded in Ukraine.
The MEA said India has reiterated its demand for “urgent safe passage” to Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and in other cities.
“Similar action is also being undertaken by our Ambassadors in Russia and Ukraine,” Bagchi said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Indian Air Force (IAF) to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine due to the Russian military offensive against that country, sources said today.
The IAF is likely to deploy several C-17 aircraft as part of Operation Ganga from Tuesday, they said.
The sources said the IAF is keeping its aircraft on standby to launch the evacuation operation at short notice.
In order to scale up the ongoing evacuation efforts under Operational Ganga, Modi has called for the IAF to join the exercise, the sources said.
Modi also spoke to the father of Indian student Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar, who died in shelling in war-hit Ukraine.
Official sources said Modi offered his heartfelt condolences to the family following the tragedy.
Naveen SG was on a video call for half an hour with his father and was excited to share the good news “I am returning home”, those last words will continue to ring in the head, heart and ears of Shekhargoudar as he now awaits the mortal remains of his son to reach Karnataka from war ravaged Ukraine.
Everything was happy in the morning, but around 1 pm on Tuesday, bad news struck and Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar’s family was shattered.
Naveen was killed in Russian shelling of Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkhiv today.
“Naveen had made a video call at 10.30 am and spoke to his father for half an hour. He said that all arrangements have been made and he was reaching the railway station. “After some time, he came out of the railway station along with two of his friends to buy snacks when an explosion took his life,” Shivannagoudar, a relative of Naveen, said.
In Kviy, Russian forces stepped up their attacks on populated urban areas, bombarding the central square in Ukraine’s second-largest city and Kyiv’s main TV tower.
Ukraine’s president accused Moscow of a blatant campaign of terror and vowed: “Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget.”
Ukrainian authorities said five people were killed and five wounded in the attack on the TV tower, which is a couple miles from central Kyiv and a short walk from numerous apartment buildings. Officials said a TV control room and a power substation were hit, and Ukrainian TV channels stopped broadcasting.
At the same time, a 64-kilometer convoy of hundreds of Russian tanks and other vehicles advanced on Kyiv in what the West feared was a bid by Russian President Vladimir Putin to topple Ukraine’s Government and install a Kremlin-friendly regime.
And Russian forces pressed their attack on other towns and cities across the country, including at or near the strategic ports of Odesa and Mariupol in the south.
Day 6 of the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II found Russia increasingly isolated, beset by tough sanctions that have thrown its economy into turmoil and left the country practically friendless, apart from a few countries like China, Belarus and North Korea.
Overall death tolls from the fighting remained unclear, but a senior Western intelligence official, who had been briefed by multiple intelligence agencies, estimated Tuesday that more than 5,000 Russian soldiers had been captured or killed so far.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence said they had had seen an increase in Russian air and artillery strikes on populated urban areas over the past two days.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, with a population of about 1.5 million, at least six people were killed when the region’s Soviet-era administrative building was hit. Explosions tore through residential areas, and a maternity ward was moved to an underground shelter. (PTI)
Kharkiv’s Freedom Square — Ukraine’s largest plaza, and the nucleus of public life in the city — was struck with what was believed to be a missile, in an attack seen by many Ukrainians as brazen evidence that the Russian invasion wasn’t just about hitting military targets but also about breaking their spirits.
The bombardment blew out windows and walls of buildings that ring the massive central square, which was piled high with debris and dust. Inside one building, chunks of plaster were scattered, and doors, ripped from their hinges, lay across hallways.
“People are under the ruins. We have pulled out bodies,” said Yevhen Vasylenko, a representative of the Emergency Situations Ministry in Kharkiv region. In addition to the six killed, 20 were wounded in the strike, he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pronounced the attack on the main square “frank, undisguised terror,” blaming a Russian missile and calling it a war crime. “This is state terrorism of the Russian Federation,” he said.
In an emotional appeal to the European Parliament later, Zelenskyy said: “We are fighting also to be equal members of Europe. I believe that today we are showing everybody that is what we are.”
He said 16 children had been killed around Ukraine on Monday, and he mocked Russia’s claim that it is going after only military targets.
“Where are the children, what kind of military factories do they work at? What tanks are they going at, launching cruise missiles?” Zelenskyy said. (PTI)