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Supreme Court to hear PIL regarding evacuation of Indians from Ukraine

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The Supreme Court will hear a PIL on March 21, 2022, seeking directions to the Union of India to immediately take effective diplomatic steps and measures for the evacuation of stranded Indian citizens, including students and families in Ukraine.

The PIL, filed by Supreme Court Advocate Vishal Tiwari, further sought directions to the Central government to ensure essential and emergency supplies like medical facilities, housing & lodging and supply of food to stranded Indian citizens in Ukraine, and to ensure that MBBS degree of Indian students from Ukraine through online mode shall be recognised, so that the students shall not lose their career.

According to the petition, the ongoing war in Russia and Ukraine has left the life and liberty of Indian students and families in danger, who are residing in Ukraine for studies and work. Over 20,000 Indians are presently in Ukraine, including 18,000 students, while the world is watching the developments in Ukraine with Russian military build-up on the borders of the country.

The petition alleged that flights to India have become costlier. On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced military operation against Ukraine, claiming that it is intended to protect civilians. The present military action has put a question mark on the safety and life of Indian students studying in Ukraine. The air space has been shut down in Ukraine and there is no hope for Indian students to escape from the war-ravaged land.

There are thousands of Indian medical students studying in Ukraine, their future has been thrown into uncertainty because their studies and degrees are at stake. Some of the Universities are giving online classes, but some are forcing offline classes due to which the medical students are in fear that their degrees are at risk, if they leave Ukraine.

Some varsities are refusing to allow foreign students to leave the country and not allowing them to take online classes, the petition highlighted.

“Students from every state of our nation are stuck and trapped in Ukraine and their family members and parents are crying and looking for hope towards the government. The government has responsibility to protect the life and liberty of its citizens guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution not only in its country, but in foreign countries also, especially when the citizens are helpless and all modes of transport are shutdown. The government has to take and adopt diplomatic measures,” the PIL noted.

Other facts mentioned in the PIL include:-
The Indian government should have taken certain steps of calling students and people earlier when the situation of war had arisen 10 days before and the Indian government was very well aware that the war-like situation will arise in near future between Ukraine and Russia.

The Indian Government should now take steps to issue e-visa to the ‘stranded persons’ at the earliest and without loss of any further time and to facilitate the evacuation of all the Indian stranded persons from Ukraine to India by way of chartered/special flight(s) currently operating out of Ukraine and/or through any other mode.

The Indian government should take up the matter with its counterpart and international agencies at the highest level for the safe return/travel of Indian stranded persons/students to India and provide security to them till their evacuation, added the petition.

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