As India continues to evacuate all its stranded nationals from the war-torn country, a concerted misinformation campaign is being run by a section of left-wing media and journalists to mislead and scare the Indian nationals stuck in Ukraine. Parvathi Bindu Benu, a journalist working with the left-wing media outlet – The Hindu Business Line, was caught propagating lies about the evacuation of students from Ukrainian’s city Pisochyn.
On Thursday, Parvathi Bindu Benu quoted a tweet of DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi in which she had asked for details and contact information of certain students who were allegedly stuck in Pisochyn of Kharkiv province. In fact, Kanamozhi was responding to one of the earlier tweets put out by Parvathi asking for information about how to reach Lviv.
As Kanimozhi intervened to resolve the issue, the Hindu Business Line journalist got excited and declared that the government of Tamil Nadu arranged the transport to evacuate students free of cost from Pisochyn. The alleged journalist also ridiculed other states, saying they must follow suit.
Essentially, the ‘journalist’ was insinuating that the Tamil Nadu government directly arranged the bus to bring back the stranded students bypassing the Ministry of External Affairs. The journalist made a claim despite having no proof to suggest that the DMK-led Tamil Nadu government had arranged a bus to evacuate Tamil Nadu students from the war-torn country.
However, according to official data, the buses were arranged by the Indian government contrary to the claim of the Hindu Business Line ‘journalist’ saying that it was the Tamil Nadu government that came to the rescue of stranded Indian students by arranging the bus.
Stranded Indians leave from Pisochin in #Ukraine
MEA had announced earlier in the day that buses will be arranged in Pisochin for evacuation; 900-1000 Indians are stranded there pic.twitter.com/Dz74QUK8JV
— ANI (@ANI) March 4, 2022
On Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said that some Indians were stranded in Kharkiv while five buses were waiting to take a section of citizens out of the Pisochyn area.
Highest attention on the eastern #Ukraine particularly Kharkiv and Pisochin. We have managed to get some buses there. 5 buses already operational, more buses later in the evening; 900-1000 Indians stranded in Pisochin & 700+ in Sumy. We are concerned about Sumy: MEA pic.twitter.com/f2MLcHvfUy
— ANI (@ANI) March 4, 2022
Several visuals circulating on social media platforms show Indian students being taken out on buses from Pishocyn.
Visuals of Indian students being taken out on buses from Peshocin, Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/KnbXg8nEbc
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) March 4, 2022
The Indian Embassy in Ukraine has also tweeted out on Saturday they were reaching out to the 298 students in Pisochyn. The Indian Embassy added that more buses are en route and expected to arrive soon to pick up students. The Embassy asked the students to follow all safety instructions and precautions.
— India in Ukraine (@IndiainUkraine) March 5, 2022
The buses were arranged by MEA and local mission at the Government of India’s expense and not by the Tamil Nadu government as suggested by the alleged journalist.
More importantly, the entire evacuation process is being handled and monitored by the Ministry of External Affairs. The Government of India has launched ‘Operation Ganga’ to evacuate Indian nationals from Ukraine. No state government is running independent evacuation operations in Ukraine.
The Tamil Nadu government, which has announced its intentions to bring back Tamil Nadu students stuck in Ukraine, cannot directly coordinate with authorities in Ukraine. There is a strict protocol regarding the evacuation of Indians in Ukraine.
According to journalist Aditya Raj Kaul, the evacuation process is handled through an MEA Control Room and Indian embassies abroad. Tamil Nadu cannot arrange the buses, instead, it is the MEA and the embassies that are arranging buses in Pisochyn to evacuate stranded citizens.
Despite clarifications and official reports, the alleged journalist continues to mislead the public by claiming that her information is verified.
Hence, the assertions made by the Hindu Business Line journalist is not factually correct.
Ever since the Tamil Nadu government announced that they would be sending four legislators to Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Slovakia to evacuate stranded Tamil Nadu students, there has been a concerted campaign to discredit the centre’s efforts to bring back Indian students.