"We were all from India so we trusted each other"
An Indian student says he was racially abused and attacked while trying to flee Ukraine.
Gagandeep Singh says he and a group of students were 50km away from the Polish border when a mob approached them.
He said: “They kicked me continuously and threatened to shoot me.
“One of them said ‘F*** these Indians’. I thought I was going to die right there.
“I managed to escape by God’s grace, but a few of my friends didn’t get past.”
The 23-year-old went to Ukraine in December 2021 to complete a one-year hospitality course at Kharkiv University.
However, shelling in the city forced him and 35 other students to leave in the early hours of February 27, 2022.
Gagandeep continued: “We were all from India so we trusted each other and planned on sticking together as a group till the end.”
He reached Poland on March 2 but was accompanied by only two of the 35.
Phone calls are not going through and Gagandeep has “no idea where they are”.
Following the attack, Gagandeep continued walking to the border at Medyka and claims to have faced further discrimination when he arrived:
“There were two organised lines. One was for white people, and the other for everyone else.”
According to Gagandeep, one of the Ukrainian border guards covertly told him that the policy was “one foreigner for every 15 Ukrainians”.
That was several hours before he was allowed to enter Poland.
After crossing the border, Gagandeep was met by volunteers from Khalsa Aid, who has sent UK-based volunteers to the Ukrainian borders of Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary.
The non-profit organisation has set up a 24-hour kitchen for anybody to come and have a hot meal.
There have been several reports about people being racially abused.
Black and Brown people in Ukraine are being denied entry at border crossings.
Racism prevails, even during war. #BlackLivesMatter #AfricansinUkraine #IndiansinUkraine #racism #RefugeesWelcome
— Teri Ma (@fistacuff789) February 28, 2022
One social media user said:
“Indians are being beaten up by the Ukrainian army at the Poland border.”
But it is not just Indians. Many have pointed out that African people are also being refused entry at borders.
Khalsa Aid’s chief executive Ravinder Singh shared a video, showing a large group of Indian students being prevented from entering Poland.
Absolute RACISM on Poland-Ukraine border !!?? ??
International students have been pushed from border to border by #Polish authorities ! They are being denied entry into #Poland !! I am so disgusted !!
Is this humanity @AndrzejDuda ?
The staff @IndiainPoland need to do more pic.twitter.com/6gcZhwA2I1
— ravinder singh (@RaviSinghKA) February 27, 2022
But the Polish ambassador to the UN, Krzysztof Szczerski, has previously said any claims of racism at Poland’s border are “a complete lie and a terrible insult to us”.
After entering Poland, Gagandeep and his two friends now plan on joining a refugee camp in Warsaw.
On his future, Gagandeep said: “I have no idea what will happen with my studies.
“There is no plan, my studies are over. My parents paid for me to get my diploma and now that’s not going to happen.”