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Indians in Ukraine should stay put at bomb shelters, other safe locations till evacuation, says former Army chief Gen NC Vij

New Delhi : Indians should stay put in "bomb shelters" and other safe locations in Ukraine till arrangements are made by Indian missions for their evacuation and safe return, former Army chief Gen NC Vij has said. His remarks came amid rising tensions in Ukraine in the wake of Russian military action. "They (Indians) are in bomb shelters and other places. They should not be moving around on the roadside looking for some arraignment till the time the immigration part is organized, and the embassy tells them about it. When you reach the immigration point, you will be taken care of because there is some arrangement already done on the ground. That is very important," Gen Vij told media. Gen Vij, a former Vice Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said Indians including students in Ukraine should not move on their own to the border areas. "They should not in their anxiety move on their own and try and organize it," he said,. adding that if they try to organise a bus or any other vehicle that will not work as it will be stopped at many checkpoints. The former Chief of Army Staff said that full credit for rescuing Indian citizens must go to the Government of India. He also lauded the country's decision to send ministers as 'Special Envoys' to the neighbouring countries of Ukraine to coordinate evacuation efforts. "I must say one thing that we must give full credit to the Government of India for taking so much interest in the rescue and evacuation mission. And the Prime Minister has been heading these meetings himself and they made it very clear that their highest priority is to get the students and the other people out of the country which is a troubled area today. So I think is a very positive sign of what they have done, but there is a lot of work which will have to be done in this and in these four countries plus Moldova," Vij said. Listing problems in the ongoing efforts to evacuate the Indians, he said the main problem is in three parts. "One is to inform the parents in India that this action is on. The Cabinet Secretary had a meeting with the chief secretaries and he's telling them and then the parents will be informed. The second part is the evacuation in Ukraine and the third part is at the receiving end, whichever country or the border they are going to. The most difficult part would be the moment within Ukraine," he said. The Indian embassy in Kyiv on Monday (local time) said that the embassy has successfully facilitated the movement of more than 1,400 students out of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia city. "Successfully facilitated the movement of more than 1,400 students out of Zaporizhzhia, a city in South-East Ukraine, westwards," India in Ukraine tweeted. Earlier on Monday, a second advisory was issued to all Indian nationals/students in Ukraine. "Weekend curfew lifted in Kyiv. All students are advised to make their way to the railway station for an onward journey to the western parts. Ukraine Railways is putting special trains for evacuations," said the advisory. The embassy urged all Indian nationals and students to "remain calm, peaceful and united". "A large crowd can be expected at the railway stations, therefore, it is advised that all Indian students remain patient, composed and especially not to exhibit aggressive behaviours while at the railway stations. We expect delays in trains' schedule, even cancellation at times and long queues," read the advisory. "Indian students are requested to carry their passport, sufficient cash, ready to eat meals, easy accessible winter clothing and only essential items to ensure easy mobility. Be mindful of your belongings at all times," the advisory added. The Prime Minister has held several high-level meetings to discuss the evacuation of Indians in the prevailing situation in Ukraine.

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