Bengaluru: Karnataka Congress opposition leader Siddaramaiah on Wednesday March 2 charged that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is using even the name of the Ganga for the evacuation operation in war-torn Ukraine so that it helps the BJP during the ongoing Uttar Pradesh elections. I just hope Ganga river forgives the sins of the BJP leaders.”
In 2011, more than 15,000 people were evacuated from Libya at short notice. But the laxity of the BJP government has taken a toll of the safety of Indian students in Ukraine during the current crisis. Why could the BJP government not do what the previous governments could do? Had the BJP acted swiftly, Naveen would still be alive with us and we also could have saved 20,000 students from trauma, Siddaramaiah stated.
It is unfortunate to see that BJP leaders at the Centre are jumping to improve their public relations during the time of the Ukraine crisis. BJP leaders consider every crisis as an opportunity for more publicity, he claimed.
The ongoing uncertainty in Ukraine is highly worrying, particularly for the safety of the Indians stranded there. There were sufficient warnings by Russia about the invasion and many indications of an impending crisis since November 2021, he noted.
The unfortunate death of an Indian student, Naveen, a native of Haveri, due to shelling by Russia has exposed the under preparedness of the BJP government and failure to assess the impact by the Ministry of External Affairs, he charged.
According to the MEA, about 20,000 students were studying in Ukraine. The government had a lot of time to evacuate these students between the outbreak of hostilities in early January this year till the start of the military conflict in late February, he said.
The build up of Russian troops around Ukraine started as early as November 2021. Why was there a lack of response by the government to issue advisories for the students to leave Ukraine and make necessary arrangements to fly them back to India? Why did the government start the process only after the outbreak of hostilities, Siddaramaiah questioned.
India issued the first advisory on February 15 asking for details of Indians residing in various parts of the country, whereas many other countries had carried out this exercise a month before. It is not new for India to conduct evacuation of its citizens from conflict areas, he said.
The news reports by domestic and international media houses, about the humanitarian crisis and plight of Indian students, are very disturbing. Students, especially in the conflict zone, are facing difficulties even for a single meal, he maintained.
They are being attacked by locals and the army for money and food. Many are forced to walk hundreds of kilometres to reach border countries. Students are under immense stress due to lack of food, water and shelter. The panic among the parents of these students is equally disturbing, he said.
All possible initiatives should be taken to alleviate the stress of their parents. India, before and after Independence, has influenced the world to promote order and peace through its ‘Soft Power’. Many Indian leaders had put in great efforts to maintain stable and friendly relations with the European countries, and the BJP government should leverage India’s position to protect Indian students and ensure their well-being till they are evacuated, he said.
Negotiations should be actively pursued to prevent any further attacks on civilians, avert a humanitarian crisis and for early restoration of peace. More efforts should be made to evacuate all Indians as soon as possible. Arrangements have to be made to ensure the availability of food, water and safe shelter for Indian students in the conflict areas, Siddaramaiah added.