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Russian shelling kills Indian medical student in eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv city

An Indian student has been killed in shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, India’s foreign ministry has said.

“Foreign Secretary is calling in Ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to reiterate our demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones,” ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi wrote on Twitter.

Russian forces are firing artillery and laying siege to Kharkiv and other major cities, a Ukrainian official said, as the invasion of the former Soviet republic entered its sixth day.

Local media have identified the student as Naveen Shekharappa, belonged to the southern state of Karnataka’s Haveri district and studied medicine in Ukraine.

The student died while he was trying to find his way out of Kharkiv, reports said.

Indians make up about a quarter of the 76,000 foreign students in Ukraine, by far the largest number, according to Ukrainian government data.

New Delhi has evacuated a little over 4,000 Indians in the last month, but some 16,000 remain trapped, according to the latest data from India’s foreign ministry.

On Tuesday, the Indian embassy in Ukraine also issued an advisory, asking the Indian students to “leave Kyiv urgently”.

Many stranded students in Ukraine have criticised the Indian government’s rescue efforts as they released a slew of videos on social media highlighting their plight.

Some Indian students are being prevented from crossing into neighbouring countries, with border guards reportedly refusing to let them pass and demanding money.

India’s main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday slammed the government for not coming up with “a strategic plan for safe evacuation” of Indian students in Ukraine.

“Every minute is precious,” he tweeted.