The mayor of Romania’s Snagov city on Sunday told The Quint that India’s Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia spoke to students arrogantly at a shelter for people evacuated from war-hit Ukraine. His comment came after a video went viral of what appeared to be a misunderstanding between the two men.
Last week, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia was in Romania to supervise the evacuation of Indian students. They were brought to Romania through land and rail routes from Ukraine, where Russia has been shelling several cities for 12 days.
On March 2, a video of Scindia was posted online in which he was seen addressing the students. In the video, Snagov Mayor Mihai Anghel demanded an explanation from the minister on when the students will leave for India.
“I provide them shelter and food, not you,” Anghel was heard saying, and asking Scindia to tell them details about their departure to India.
Scindia then told the mayor that he would decide what he wanted to say and asked Anghel to “stand back”.
Anghel on Sunday said that the city had received 157 Indian students and the embassy had not helped much with food and other necessities.
“The citizens of the Snagov region provided all of it,” he told The Quint. “Then I saw this gentleman [Scindia] walk in the late evening, appearing full of himself with cameras, and addressing the students in a very arrogant tone. He was as if prepared to present a PR speech, and not comfort the students who had just fled war and wanted to go home.”
According to Anghel, Scindia’s address to students did not include information on flights or any schedule. He added that the minister was talking about everything he had done in the evacuation so far.
“These kids weren’t treated with dignity at the borders and the speech was an addition to that,” Anghel claimed. “It really put me off. He hadn’t provided any of the necessities for these students and came here and disrespected me when I asked him for details about their flight home.”
Anghel said that he got cooks who could prepare Indian food and also ensured that milk and fruits did not run out, The Times of India reported.
The Indian students who arrived in Snagov also told the newspaper that they received their favourite meals and that the administration had made comfortable sleeping arrangements.
Anghel also said that he was not angry at Scindia as a lot of people have seemingly assumed, The Quint reported.
“I did not know that he was the aviation minister,” he said. “I would have done the same if I knew. I was compelled to call his behaviour out. You can’t come to my country, my home, and disrespect us.”
As the video was widely shared online, Anghel claimed he had received messages with threats and abuses from Indian social media users.
Vipin Singh, a student from Ukraine’s Ternopil National Medical University, said that it was Anghel who had ensured their comfort in Romania.
“The next day, Mr Scindia’s PA called and messaged and asked us to record videos thanking his efforts,” he told The Quint. “Some of us refused, but I had to record it as I was scared that they may leave me stranded if I spoke the truth.”
Scindia has not addressed allegations about the spat. However, on Sunday, he expressed gratitude to Romania for taking care of Indian students.
“Overcome by gratitude towards Romania for caring for our children as their own,” he said in a tweet. “From an American chef teaching himself to cook Indian food to police officers manning shelters 24*7, nothing is impossible when humans decide to stand up for their mates in testing times.”