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‘Stepped out to buy groceries’: Indian medical student, 21, dies in Ukraine from shelling

Govt has confirmed death of Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, from Karnataka in missile attack that hit administration building in Kharkiv, where he was studying.

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New Delhi: Medical student Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, who had dreams to return to India to become a surgeon, was killed in Kharkiv, Ukraine Tuesday while stepping out to buy groceries, ThePrint has learnt.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs and sources in Kharkiv whom ThePrint spoke to, the 21-year-old student died from shelling after a missile struck the regional administration building in Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Videos also emerged on social media of the missile attack in the city centre.

Naveen, who came from Chalageri in Karnataka’s Haveri district, was a fourth-year student at Kharkiv National Medical University. ThePrint approached his victim’s father, but the family was unable to respond at this time.

ThePrint had earlier reported that about 3,500 Indian students enrolled at Kharkiv National Medical University have been hiding out in underground bunkers of hostels a few kilometres away, with limited food and water supplies, and eagerly awaiting news about evacuation efforts.

The students last week also shared pictures of an unexploded missile that was lodged in the ground of a parking lot in Kharkiv.

The Indian government is working to bring back Indians stranded in Ukraine, but the complete breakdown of public transport has complicated evacuation efforts.

Kharviv is a city just north of the Donbas region near the Russian border, where heavy fighting is taking place. 

‘We’re even more scared now’

ThePrint spoke to Swadhin Mohapatra, 30, a doctor in Kharkiv who taught Naveen.

“Naveen died this morning around 7 am. He was staying with us in the underground bomb shelter where there are still currently a few thousand Indian students. After the curfew [from 6 pm to 6 am] was lifted, he stepped out to buy groceries very close to the building that was attacked. I saw the body — he died from shelling,” Mohapatra told ThePrint over a WhatsApp call.

Mohapatra works at a hospital that is affiliated with Kharkiv National Medical University, of which he is an alumnus.

“Naveen was a very good person, very studious. He had big dreams and was high-performing. He actually wanted to return to India to be a surgeon,” he added.

Naveen’s death has also rattled other Indian students hiding out in bomb shelters in Kharkiv, waiting to be evacuated.

“We’re even more scared now,” Aditya Singh, 17, told ThePrint.

There are also unconfirmed reports of deaths in Kharkiv Tuesday, but they could not be verified.

“Everyone is panicking. We are just giving interviews to the media, and what’s the fun in that? One student has already died, and now others are leaving at their own risk,” Khwaish Thapa, 19, told ThePrint.

CM Bommai condoles death, govt working to bring back remains

The Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the death of the student Tuesday, after which the office of Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai confirmed his identity. 

“Shocked on death of Naveen Gyanagoudar, student from Karnataka, in bomb shelling in Ukraine. My deep condolences to the family. May his soul rest in peace,” said Bommai.

Bommai also said the Karnataka government is working with the MEA to bring back the student’s mortal remains. 

However, Mohapatra told ThePrint that it will be difficult to repatriate the body when even evacuation efforts are facing numerous challenges, including air raids at any moment, as well as the breakdown of public transport.

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)

Also read: Ukraine’s path: From ‘cradle of the Russian nation’ to Soviet Republic to current conflict


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