Students stayed back in Ukraine as they were scared of losing a year: Hardeep Singh Puri

New Delhi, April 5 : on Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who was among the Ministers who were sent to the neighbouring countries of war-torn Ukraine, said several students stayed back in Ukraine, despite the Indian advisory, as they were told by the institutes that they may lose a year if they leave. Intervening in a debate on the situation in Ukraine in Lok Sabha, the Minister said there was no ambiguity in the advisory issued by the Indian Embassy in Ukraine, adding that the government cannot force private citizens to leave a country. “The very fact that our Embassy in Kyiv decided to undertake a registration of all our students there in the month of January, was a clear pointer in the direction of anxiety and the fact that we were preparing ourselves for an eventuality of a kind that unfolded in the aftermath of military operations of February 24,” Puri said. “One member sought to draw difference in the language of our advisory and those of other countries… I am a student of English language, an advisory in any case is advisory… government cannot direct private citizens to leave a place,” he added. “Why did the rest not leave? What is a choice they exercised because they thought military operation will finally not take place or there was some consideration, and that is why a reference was made by one Member to student contractors, I spoke to many of my young friends who were evacuated via Hungary…” he said. “Many of them had the same story, they were being encouraged by authorities of the educational institute, which they were attending, to say things are going to be alright,” noted the Minister. “The students, some of them in their final year, some who had a few months left, were told if you leave, we may not be able to hold online classes and it may result in you losing one year. That is the kind of talk young minds had to grapple with,” he added. He further said that there has been “unambiguous” support from all MPs on the evacuation effort, and added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself held meetings on evacuation. AO RJ

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