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India denies competing Russian, Ukrainian claims of hostage situation

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India on Thursday denied competing claims by Ukraine and Russia that the other side had held Indian students hostage in Kharkiv.It all began on Wednesday night after a conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A Kremlin readout on the telephonic call said some students were taken hostage by the Ukrainian security forces who used them as human shields.

The Ukrainians responded by “urgently calling” on India, Pakistan and China whose students have “become hostages” in Kharkiv and Sumy to demand that Russia open a humanitarian passage to other Ukrainian cities.

The MEA has responded by saying it did not receive any report of a hostage situation regarding Indian students in Kharkiv. In fact, New Delhi has requested the support of Ukrainian authorities in arranging special trains for taking students out from the city and neighbouring areas.

“Our Embassy in Ukraine is in continuous touch with Indian nationals in Ukraine. We note that with the cooperation of the Ukrainian authorities, many students have left Kharkiv yesterday,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

“We have not received any report of any hostage situation regarding any student. We have requested the support of the Ukrainian authorities in arranging special trains for taking out students from Kharkiv and neighbouring areas to the western part of the country,” he said.

The safe evacuation of Indian students from the conflict zones in eastern Ukraine has been New Delhi’s top priorities. PM Modi’s conversation with Putin was their second on the issue. The PM has also spoken to the Ukrainian President while Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has twice called in the Ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine and urged them to ensure the safety of students.


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