SC expresses concern over students stranded in Ukraine; Centre says 17,000 Indians evacuated

NEW DELHI — As the Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern for the lives of students caught in the middle of the conflict zone in Ukraine, the Centre said that government efforts have resulted in a swift evacuation of 17,000 Indians from Ukraine.

A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli suggests to the government to open helplines so the students or their families can communicate.

Attorney General of India KK Venugopal, appearing for Centre, apprised the bench that government efforts have resulted in the swift evacuation of 17,000 Indians from Ukraine and government is keen to swiftly evacuate the remaining around 7,000 Indian citizens.

The Prime Minister had a meeting with ministers to ensure the evacuation happens swiftly, added Venugopal.

The government of India is equally concerned as the Supreme Court is and is leaving no stone unturned to bring the citizens back, AG told the bench.

Please leave it to the government, AG said and cited the example of the government evacuating lakhs of Indians during the Kuwait war.

The bench said it was not saying a single word about Centre and appreciate the efforts but it’s concerned about the stranded students.

During the hearing of plea seeking evacuation of stranded Indian medical students on Ukrain border, Attorney General said that he had conveyed the concerns expressed by the bench yesterday to PK Mishra, the Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, who in turn conveyed the same to Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is stationed in Romania to oversee the rescue operations.

Scindia contacted the petitioner student Fathima Ahana who was stranded at the Ukraine border and now have crossed over to Romania. She along with others will be brought back by a special flight to India tonight, AG added.

Yesterday, the apex court had asked AG to “use your good officers” to bring back the students from the conflict zone.

Today, the apex court also asked Attorney General to get instructions from the Centre about all the steps being taken to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine and the possibility of a helpline for parents etc.

CJI Ramana also said that it was unfortunate that humans have not learnt from the past horrors of war.

“It’s unfortunate that we have not learnt from past mistakes and still resort to war. We dont have much say but there is anxiety about students,” said the CJI.

The bench now listed the matter for hearing next Friday.

The petition filed by Ahana claimed that over 250 students stranded in Ukrain were stuck and trapped, looking for hope towards the government, not India.

Senior advocate AM Dar appearing for her yesterday said, “Students studying in Odessa National Medical University, Ukraine are at the Romanian border and no flights are being operated. Only Poland and Hungary have flights. They are stranded in -7 degrees without food and water.”

The plea has sought direction to the government to secure permission to cross the checkpoint in Moldova from Ukraine en route to Romania for boarding the Air India evacuation flight, and to immediately take effective diplomatic steps and measures for the evacuation of the Petitioner including other stranded students from Ukraine.

The bench also slammed advocate Vishal Tiwari for filing a PIL in the matter and asked if he was looking for publicity by taking advantage of the situation.

The CJI told Tiwari that he has seen from the Supreme Court website that he has filed several PILs in the past which were dismissed with costs.

“If you want to do something, this isn’t the way to file petitions with paper cuttings etc. You know this is a sensitive situation, we can’t say anything, don’t try to take advantage,” the bench said.

He had filed the plea seeking directions for the protection of thousands of students and families who are stranded in Ukraine in wake of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. — (ANI)