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Father of Indian student killed in Ukraine says body moved out of Kharkiv for security reasons

Shekhar Gouda said the mortal remains of his son Naveen, who died on 1 March, are in Vinnytsia. Indian govt is working on bringing them to Poland before repatriation.

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New Delhi: The mortal remains of Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, a 21-year-old Indian student who was killed in war-torn Ukraine on 1 March, have been shifted out of Kharkiv due to security reasons, his family told ThePrint.

“Yesterday, the government informed us that the body has been shifted out of Kharkiv city due to security reasons. There’s a lot of fighting going on there and it’s become more dangerous. We were told the body is currently in Vinnytsia,” said Naveen’s father Shekhar Gouda, adding that the Indian government is working on first bringing the remains to Poland. 

Kharkiv lies just north of eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region near the Russian border. Vinnytsia is a city in west-central Ukraine, located approximately 710 km away from Kharkiv. 

On 1 March, Naveen, a medical student enrolled at Kharkiv National Medical University, died from shelling as a missile struck an administrative building in the city while he was buying groceries nearby. His collegemates, meanwhile, were hiding out in underground bomb shelters. The young student had dreams to return to India to become a surgeon.

According to Naveen’s family, the Indian embassy in Ukraine, currently working out of Poland, has completed all formalities for the transportation of his mortal remains, and an advance amount has also been paid. 

On Sunday, the Centre and the Karnataka government had said that efforts are underway to repatriate the body. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed concerned authorities to make all possible efforts to bring back the student’s body, while Karnataka Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai said that once the shelling in Kharkiv stops, the government will resume the repatriation process.

Bommai had earlier said that Naveen’s body had been embalmed and kept in a mortuary in Kharkiv.

Two Indian students are known to have died so far amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. Apart from Naveen, another student, Chandan Jindal from Punjab’s Barnala district, died from a brain stroke on 2 March.

Also Read: Why Russian strikes on Ukraine’s defence industry sites are worrying Indian Navy & IAF

‘Documentation approvals pending from Polish consulate’

Asked what mode of transport was used to shift his son’s body from Kharkiv to Vinnytsia, Shekhar Gouda said: “We were not told how it was shifted. All we know is that the government is working on bringing the body to Poland. But they have not given us any timeline or dates.”

The body will be shifted out of Vinnytsia once pending documentation approvals are received from the Polish consulate, he added.

“We are patiently waiting for the body to come back so we can perform the last rites and other necessary ceremonies,” Naveen’s elder brother Harsha, 25, who is pursuing a PhD in agriculture, told ThePrint.

Naveen’s family has been living in Chalageri, a village in Haveri district of Karnataka, for the past two years, following his father’s retirement. Before that, they lived in Mysuru for six-seven years when Shekhar Gouda was working as a mechanical engineer at The South India Paper Mills Ltd. 

On Sunday, the last batch of Indian students from Ukraine returned to India under ‘Operation Ganga’.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: Ukraine ‘dissatisfied’ with India’s stand on Russia invasion, ‘pleads’ to Modi to talk to Putin


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