Sainikhesh, 21, from Tamil Nadu, joins Ukrainian army to fight Russian troops

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Sainikhesh Ravichandran, originally from Thudiyalur in Coimbatore, was in Kharkiv studying aerospace engineering at Kharkiv National University when the war broke out.

Sainikhesh Ravichandran, 21, has always wanted to be in the army. An aerospace engineering student, Sainikhesh had twice tried to join the Indian Army but was rejected due to his height. So when the government of war-stricken Ukraine called for foreign nationals in the country to help them resist invading Russian troops, Sainikhesh decided to volunteer.

Sainikhesh had studied aerospace engineering in Kharkiv and is in his fifth year. He hails from Subramaniyampalayam near Thudiyalur in Coimbatore. After the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Sainikhesh could not be communicated for a few days. However, a few days later, Sainikhesh’s parents, Jhansi Lakshmi and her husband Ravichandran, were flabbergasted and worried to learn that their eldest son Sainikhesh was waging a war in a foreign country. They alerted the Indian Embassy as soon as they found out. Tamil Nadu Police sources told IANS that a group of Central Intelligence Bureau officers visited Sainikhesh’s residence a few days ago and gathered details about him. They also asked why he joined the Ukrainian forces.

His parents, according to police, told intelligence detectives that Sainikhesh had a passion for military and weapons training. His bedroom in Coimbatore is full of photographs of Indian military and officers, they say. Sainikhesh’s family says he told them a few days before the war broke out that he got a part-time job at a video game development company in Kharkiv.

Also read: ‘He was a good person, a topper’: Naveen’s distraught friends who died in Ukraine

However, it was not until intelligence detectives visited them that the family learned that Sainikhesh had joined the Ukrainian forces. His father Ravichandran told IANS: “I am terribly upset and have asked the Indian government to bring my son back to India. He called home a few days ago and said he was safe but he didn’t listen to our requests to come back.”

This development comes as thousands of Indian students, stranded in Ukraine, continue to be brought back to India. Many parents are worried about the lives of their children and have questioned the Union government’s belated response to bring back students trapped in the crossfire. Just last week, on Tuesday March 1, a 21-year-old medical student, Naveen Gyanagoudar, was killed in a Russian shelling while queuing to buy food outside a supermarket in Kharkiv, the same town where Sainikhesh lives. A day after Gyangoudar’s death, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine asked all Indian nationals who were in Kharkiv to leave the city immediately and reach the neighboring towns of Pesochin, Babai and Bezlyudovka at 6 p.m. that day.

Read: Traveling hungry, amid bombs and gunfire: an Indian student’s journey from Ukraine

Read also: A Ukrainian mirror: war, women and peace

(With IANS entries)

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