Mumbai: It was all smiles and relief on the faces of Indian students who were evacuated from Ukraine and landed safely in Mumbai on Saturday evening.
The first evacuation flight, AI1944, took off from Bucharest, Romania, at 1:55 p.m. (India Standard Time) and landed at Mumbai airport around 8:30 p.m. The flight was carrying 219 Indian students.
At the airport, scenes of anxiety and relief were visible. Parents and relatives had started arriving from 7 p.m., eagerly waiting to welcome their children stranded in war-torn Ukraine.
Indubai Bhalerao, the septuagenarian, had come to receive her granddaughter. Her son and daughter-in-law advised her to stay home, but “I couldn’t. I had to see my granddaughter now. I was very worried for her. »
The second evacuation flight, AI1942, is expected to return to Delhi airport early Sunday morning with 250 other Indian nationals.
Ukrainian airspace has been closed to civil air operations since Thursday morning and as a result evacuation flights are operating from Bucharest and Budapest, Hungary. About 16,000 Indians, mostly students, have been stranded in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla said. said Thursday.
“The strength of India”, “We thank Modi”
Union Minister Piyush Goyal was also at the airport to receive the students. Speaking to the media, he said: “It is the strength of India that we want to imbue in all children.”
He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was working continuously to ensure the safety of Indians and their safe passage through the country.
Political parties flooded the space, with workers from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holding placards thanking NCP leader Sharad Pawar and Modi respectively.
As soon as the students started to come out, BJP workers filled the air with “We thank Modi” slogans, as anxious parents and children searched for each other.
Hugs, smiles and garlands then changed the atmosphere.
Provisions by local authorities, states
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar who was at the airport said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was ready to accommodate the students and bear all the expenses to help them.
“It is our children who are returning to their homeland. So as BMC we do all the preparation for them. If they want to go anywhere, their tests, their vaccinations, their food, anything, we’ll pay for them.
Slowly the airport filled up with different groups. Representatives from various states including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Bihar stood with placards to receive their students.
Students then had to be taken to hotels or other accommodations, with food provided by their respective states until domestic flights carried them to state capitals.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)
Read also : Sounds of shelling, crowded basements, no food – Indian students stuck in Ukraine tell the horror story