Civil Aviation Minister: ‘We were to stay until the last flight bound for India departed from Ukraine.’

History TV18 presents a documentary on how over 22,000 Indians were brought back safely from war-torn Ukraine by the Indian government. Photo: Network 18

History TV18 has announced the launch of its new documentary, The Evacuation: Operation Ganga, that tells the gripping tale of one of the largest evacuation operations of the 21st century, carried out by the Indian Government in Ukraine. The film captures the trials and tribulations of Indian students stuck in that war-torn country and reveals never-before-seen details of the air evacuation mission to bring over 22,000 stranded Indians home.

Narrated by media commentator and Defense Analyst Maroof Raza, the documentary presents the first-hand accounts of Indian students stuck in war- ravaged Ukraine, living in bunkers devoid of basic necessities, food and water, while their parents anxiously awaited their safe return.

The film’s narrative juxtaposes the worsening situation in Ukraine and the ever-present fear for life, with the unfolding of a massive rescue mission focused on a singular objective—to bring every Indian back home. With compelling footage, revelatory details, untold first-person accounts and unprecedented access, The Evacuation: Operation Ganga offers rare insight into the logistics of the mammoth operation and the Indian government’s remarkable efforts to create secure routes for stranded students.

It has been over a year since the Ukraine-Russia conflict broke out and its reverberations and repercussions have been felt worldwide as hostilities escalated. For thousands of Indian students trapped in the active war zone, uncertainty and risk to life loomed large. The film shines a light on the indomitable spirit of India and the Indian government’s unwavering resolve to ensure the safe return of its citizens. At the helm of the humanitarian mission was Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Featuring on the documentary, the Prime Minister explains how ‘Operation Ganga’ was planned and what it meant to him and the country. “In the heart of every Indian, there rests a profound faith: No matter what the challenge, no matter how daunting the circumstance, they know their government stands with them and will bring them back home safely. This isn’t merely policy – it is our testament of humanity. This is a bond we have seen strengthen time and again, reflecting the indomitable spirit of our nation,” stated Modi.

Sharing important insights, India’s Minister for External Affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar, adds an insider perspective of what transpired behind the scenes. Other esteemed figures from India’s foreign service, such as Rahul Shrivastava (Ambassador of India to Romania, Moldova & Albania), Nagma Mallick (Ambassador of India to the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Lithuania) and Partha Satpathy (former Ambassador of India to Ukraine), also shed light on the relentless efforts of Indian diplomats, to ensure that stranded individuals were taken care of, despite extreme weather conditions, visa norms and more.

Speaking of India’s diplomatic efforts, Dr. S. Jaishankar said, “Our relentless efforts spanned across neighboring countries like Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and later Moldova, as we sought their cooperation for facilitating the evacuation process from Ukraine. Through diplomatic channels, the Prime Minister engaged with President Putin, securing a ceasefire during the evacuation period and obtaining designated routes for evacuation. While numerous countries struggled to evacuate their citizens with just a couple of flights, India successfully coordinated 90 flights to safely send back Indian students. Our nation’s important voice continues to play a pivotal role in shaping outcomes on the global stage.”

Special envoys and senior ministers also feature in the documentary.  Hardeep Puri (Union Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs & Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas), Gen (Retd.) V.K. Singh (Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways and Civil Aviation) and Kiren Rijiju (Minister of Earth Sciences) explain how India expedited border crossings in Ukraine’s neighboring countries, revealing the extraordinary collaboration of state machinery, Indian defense forces, private partners and the Indian diaspora, as never witnessed before.

India’s Union Minister for Civil Aviation & Steel, Jyotiraditya Scindia, one of four ministers who traveled to Ukraine to oversee the evacuation, says in the film, “The Prime Minister convened a meeting to assess the situation on the ground and devise a strategy for the safe return of our students. His directive was clear: it was our responsibility to ensure the safe return of all Indian citizens, students and youth, and we were to stay until the last flight bound for India departed from Ukraine.”

From the days leading up to the conflict in February 2022, through the outbreak of the war and beyond, the documentary provides a blow-by-blow account of the operation.

The Evacuation – Operation Ganga is a History TV18 original, produced by Colosceum Media. The film premieres on History TV18 on June 17.



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