The second and final batch of 500 Indians, mostly students, are leaving violence-hit Ukrainian city of Lugansk to Kyiv today even as the first group of 500 students have reached the Ukrainian capital en route to India.
India in cooperation with Ukrainian government has made arrangements to evacuate close to 1000 of its nationals from Lugansk, which is witnessing fierce battle between Moscow- backed supporters and the government troops. Indian authorities have arranged 1000 train tickets since yesterday to evacuate the Indian nationals. "Halfway home! Students from Lugansk region in Ukraine returning to India are now in Kyiv enroute to homes in India," the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi tweeted today.
Indian Ambassador in Kyiv Rajiv K Chander, in a letter to the Rector of Lugansk State Medical University, has said, "The university authorities may please inform the local administration about the en masse departure of the Indian students so that adequate security arrangements are made to enable them to reach the railway station safely." Chander requested the university authorities to ensure that the students board the train and leave Lugansk, some 800 kms from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
Out of the 1,000 Indian nationals, 350 are from Kerala, 300 from Tamil Nadu, 150 from Andhra Pradesh, 60 from Punjab, 25 each from Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra. The remaining Indians are from other states including 10 from Gujarat. India last week issued an advisory asking its nationals to leave Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine which are witnessing frequent violent clashes between pro-Russian separatists and government forces.
In the advisory, it also asked citizens in the other parts of eastern and southern Ukraine to remain vigilant about their personal safety and security. Eastern Ukraine is witnessing a fierce escalation of violence between the two sides over the past few days. The violence started after Russia annexed Crimea - an autonomous peninsula within Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority - in March following which the pro-Russian rebels seized control of parts of eastern Ukraine and demanded its independence.
The current evacuation is the biggest one after the exercise in 2011 in Libya where Indian government evacuated around 18,000 nationals, who were fleeing from the Libyan civil war.