No relief, Hoshiarpur boy begins 750km hike to Polish border amid war in Ukraine – Reuters
Jalandhar, February 26
It was a nightmarish experience for Gurbhej Singh from Bhunder Di village, Hoshiarpur, who has been trying since last night to get to the Polish border from the city of Odessa in Ukraine.
Accompanied by his three friends, he has no means of transport and walks towards the border located 750 km away. He was only able to cover 34 km in 12 hours.
“Trains and taxis have stopped running here. The majority of vehicles on the road are tankers. We tried to lift ourselves from all the passing vehicles, but only the driver of an army vehicle helped us. He dropped us off after 10 miles as he was going in another direction. Since then, we had no choice but to keep walking, carrying our luggage and snacking on the cookies we had. In the meantime, we could just find a place in a church to rest and refresh ourselves,” Gurbhej said, adding, “We are still 716 km from the border. Under these circumstances, we really had no idea when and how this trip would end.
Telling his story, Gurbhej said, “I came to Poland seven months ago on a study visa. I also started working in a store. After the owner went on vacation and closed the store for 15 days, I came to meet my friends in Odessa. Now I realize that was the biggest mistake of my life. Half the city has already been bombed. Yesterday, all the windows of my friends’ apartment were smashed following the impact of an attack on a neighboring building. We were in the basement and the army didn’t let us move for several hours. Eventually my friends and I escaped feeling that we were in the danger zone. Since I have the visa for Poland, I have no choice but to go to its border only.
Unlike Gurbhej, Nitin Arora from Sangat Singh Nagar in Jalandhar was luckier. After waiting all day, he finally managed to catch a train to Lviv last night and reached base camp this morning.
It was a difficult time for Hemant’s family, who had started their car from Kiev to the Slovak borders because they had lost contact with him. His brother Darpan, who resides here in Islamganj, said: “We spoke to him last night. He had told us that he had arrived near Slovakia and that the forces were escorting them across the borders. Since then, his phone and that of his three friends have been switched off and we are tense. We have tried to contact MEA officials to help us find their whereabouts.