Three cats, dog among evacuees from war-hit Ukraine


PTI, Mar 3, 2022, 8:52 PM IST

Three cats and a dog were among the evacuees from war-hit Ukraine besides 798 stranded Indians who returned home early on Thursday. The evacuees came on board four C-17 Globemaster aircraft of the Indian Air Force that landed at the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad, adjoining Delhi in western Uttar Pradesh, according to sources.

”A total of 798 stranded Indians were evacuated through the four Air Force flights that reached the Hindon air base on Thursday. Besides them, there was a dog and a cat on one flight and two other cats in another flight,” a source at the Hindon air base said. The dog, a Siberian Husky, belonged to Yukta, a fourth-year MBBS student from Maharahstra’s Pune. She boarded the special IAF flight from Poland.

She was in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine around 70 km off Poland border, where she got the dog along with her friends and named it ”Neela”.

”I am sure the puppy would have been a well-behaved passenger,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh, who is in Poland to facilitate the evacuation of Indian nationals, said on Twitter.

”Will see both (Yukta and Neela) of you again when I am back. Take care. Jai Hind,” he added. A cat belonging to another MBBS student was also on board the same flight, which reached Hindon around 6.15 am, they added. Two other cats came to India with their Indian master, who had got them in Ukraine. They came in a flight that reached around 5.30 am, they said. While the first flight arrived around 1.30 am, the second landed around 5.30 am, the next at 6.15 am and the fourth at 8.15 am, bringing on board 798 Indians, who were stranded in Ukraine, the source said.

During the last few days, a couple of Indian students had declared that they will not leave the war-torn country without their pets.

Arya Aldrin, a medical student at National Pirogov Memorial Medical University in Vinnytsya, had reportedly said she won’t leave her five-month-old Siberian Husky puppy Zaira behind. She was praised for this decision by Kerala Education Minister V Sivankutty on Facebook.

Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt was at the Hindon air base to receive the evacuees, most of whom after landing in Ghaziabad were headed to their respective state guest houses in Delhi for further departure to their homes.

As tensions escalated amid Russian shelling since February 24 and all flight operations to Ukraine were suspended, India launched the Operation Ganga to evacuate its nationals from the conflict zone.

The government has already sent four Union ministers to countries neighbouring Ukraine as India’s ”special envoys” to coordinate the evacuation efforts.

Hardeep Singh Puri is in Hungary, Jyotiraditya Scindia in Romania, Kiren Rijiju in Slovakia and V K Singh in Poland.

So far, over a dozen flights have returned to India with more than 3,300 evacuees, who left Ukraine through its western neighbours like Romania, Poland and Hungary.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held a string of top-level meetings to ensure safe repatriation of Indian citizens from the war-ravaged region whilst being in touch with foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, to discuss the situation.

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