The Kerala High Court Advocates Association on Monday, February 28, moved the Kerala High Court seeking the urgent evacuation of students from Kerala who are currently stuck in war-stricken Ukraine. Justice N Nagaresh was hearing the plea filed by the association and two of its members, whose daughter is stranded in Ukraine, for the safe and expeditious repatriation of the Malayali students trapped there.
The plea has sought direction to the Kerala government to provide adequate financial assistance, as may be required, for enabling the Indian Embassy to repatriate the students from Kerala who are stranded in Kyiv. Advocate Santhosh Mathew, who represented the petitioners, told the court about the practical difficulties faced by the students trapped in the war-hit cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv as well as by those who managed to reach the borders but were not permitted to go through.
In the plea, which was moved on Monday and heard on the same day, the petitioners have contended that while the Indian Embassy there was coordinating the evacuation efforts, "the reality of the situation is that these children must bear the entire cost and risk of travelling in a warzone to the nearest border." After they reach the border, they are faced with "mass discrimination and torture by the Ukrainian Army and the border patrol" and they are also made to wait for hours in the extreme cold weather, the petition has claimed and added that this was probably due to the alleged "lack of a presence of the representatives of the Indian Embassy."
During the hearing, Mathew also told the court that arrangements be made for transportation of the students from Lviv railway station to the Polish border which is 28 kilometres from the station. He also told the court that Sister Ligy Payyappilly, Mother Superior of a Convent at Mukachevo near Lviv has agreed to provide shelter and food to the students till arrangements are made to take them to the Polish border.
Meanwhile, appearing for the Union government, Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) Manu S said that four Cabinet Ministers are being sent to nations bordering Ukraine to facilitate the repatriation of the around 19,000 Indians stranded in Ukraine there amidst the ongoing Russian offensive. He added that the court that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was in constant touch with the embassies of Ukraine and its neighbouring countries and said that discussions have also been held with the Russian Ambassador on the issue of evacuating the students safely. The ASG said that the Russian government has assured of its cooperation in the matter.
The Kerala government told the court that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has already written to the Prime Minister that Kerala was willing to meet the expenses of bringing the Malayali students to the state once they reach India.
After hearing all sides, the court allowed the petitioners to pass on the information they have about the stranded students to the ASG so that the Centre can do whatever is possible for their expeditious repatriation and listed the matter for further hearing on Wednesday, March 2.
Eighty-two Malayali students, who were studying in Ukraine and left after the Russian invasion of that country, had arrived in Kerala by Sunday night.