Abhinav Chandel, a resident of Dum Dum and a third-year student of Vinnytsya Pirogov National Medical University, had reached the Ukraine-Romania border on Saturday but could finally make it to the other side on Monday.
“Standing in the queue behind thousands, literally shaking in the cold and the blizzard accompanied by snowfall, I thought I would die at one point of time. I am thankful I still have my body parts intact and didn’t get a frost bite.
The soldiers guarding the border didn’t make our plight any easier as they kept pushing us and fired in the air to keep evacuees like us at bay,” said Chandel on reaching the Bucharest airport in Romania on Monday. Chandel was already provided a ticket and he hopes to be put on an evacuation flight to Mumbai on Monday night or early on Tuesday.
Similar was the experience for Sheikh Milkhail Alam, a Howrah resident and a student of Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University who waited at the border for more than a day even as he ensured safe passage for many of his friends.
“We were left without food and water for hours. There was no washroom and even if people had an urge to go to the toilet, we couldn’t risk leaving the queue. We were finally allowed to cross the border at 3am and since then, we were taken to a camp and then to a hotel in Romania where we were given food and blankets. I am dog tired as I have been waiting at the border since Friday and just want to go home,” said Alam, who is likely to reach Kolkata on Tuesday.
Bitasta Gupta, an Uttarpara resident and fifth-year student of Ternopil National Medical University, got stuck at the border and had got separated from her friends on Sunday and was left to fend off the cold all by herself. Her phone battery got exhausted and she couldn’t even make any contact with her family or friends.
“We were extremely tense as her friend told me that she was left behind as they crossed to Romania. I got a call from her at 3am on Monday when she was crying and was requesting me to do something to rescue her. I have never felt so helpless. But finally, she has been able to cross the border and is at the immigration counter and is now waiting to board a flight back home,” said Bitasta’s father Debasis Gupta.
With the Ukraine-Romania border packed with foreigners and Ukranians attempting to flee the country, other students have now headed to the relatively less crowded Hungary border. While many students said embassy officials were hard to connect with, travel agents are making the most of the occasion, charging hefty prices for a less hectic passage using their contacts.
“Six of us are trying to cross the border with the help of an agent. But we have been told that there is extreme rush at the border now and so we are staying back at Uzhhorod City for now. We have been told to wait here for 4-5 days. We don’t know where we are headed to,” said Anindya Sekhar Bhadra, a resident of Barasat and a student of Vinnytsya Pirogov National Medical University.