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India evacuates 1,000 nationals from Ukrainian city

The first batch of 500 Indians, mostly students, are leaving violence-hit Ukrainian city of Lugansk to Kiev on Tuesday as India made arrangements to evacuate close to 1,000 of its nationals from that city, the biggest such exercise after thousands of Indians were evacuated from Libya in 2011. The evacuation arrangements were made in cooperation with the Ukrainian government, the spokesperson in the external affairs ministry said in New Delhi.

According to officials, Indian authorities have arranged 500 train tickets for Tuesday to evacuate the Indian nationals. Another 500 train tickets have been arranged for Wednesday to evacuate the remaining Indian students and nationals.

In a letter to the Rector of Lugansk State Medical University, Indian Ambassador in Kiev, Rajiv K Chander, said, “The university authorities may please inform the local administration about the en masse departure of the Indian students so that adequate security arrangements are made to enable them to reach the railway station safely.”

Chander requested the university authorities to ensure that the students board the train and leave Lugansk, some 800 km from the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Of the 1,000 Indian nationals, 350 are from Kerala, 300 from Tamil Nadu, 150 from Andhra Pradesh, 60 from Punjab, and 25 each from Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra. The remaining Indians are from other states, including 10 from Gujarat.

ndia last week issued an advisory asking its nationals to leave Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine which are witnessing frequent violent clashes between pro-Russian separatists and government forces.

In the advisory, it also asked citizens in the other parts of eastern and southern Ukraine to remain vigilant about their personal safety and security.

Eastern Ukraine is witnessing a fierce escalation of violence between the two sides over the past few days. The violence started after Russia annexed Crimea – an autonomous peninsula within Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority – in March following which the pro-Russian rebels seized control of parts of eastern Ukraine and demanded its independence. The current evacuation is the biggest one after the exercise in 2011 in Libya where Indian government evacuated around 18,000 nationals, who were fleeing from the Libyan civil war.

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