India on Thursday shrugged off claims that its students in Ukraine were held hostage by Ukrainian security forces who are using them as ‘human shields’. In a response to media queries on the situation, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that they had received “no such reports".
“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," Bagchi said in an official communication shared on his Twitter handle.
“We have not received any reports of any hostage situation regarding any student. We have requested 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 added.
The official said that several Indian nationals have been evacuated from Ukraine in the last few days, denying the claims of a hostage situation made by Russian defence sources a day back.
“We have been coordinating effectively with the countries in the region including Russia, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova. A large number of Indian nationals have been evacuated from Ukraine in the last few days," Bagchi noted.
“We appreciate the help extended by the Ukrainian authorities to make this possible. We thank Ukraine’s western neighbours in receiving Indian nationals and for accommodating them while they waited for flights to take them back home," he said.
On Wednesday following the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin in its statement said that Ukraine is using Indian students as human shields. “The Russian side, in particular, is trying to organise an urgent evacuation of a group of Indian students from Kharkov (the Russian name of Kharkiv) through the humanitarian corridor along the shortest route to Russia,” said a readout.
“At the same time, according to the latest information, these students are actually taken hostage by the Ukrainian security forces, who use them as a human shield and in every possible way prevent them from leaving for Russian territory. Responsibility in this case lies entirely with the Kyiv authorities,” it added.