India said it is in touch with all countries at various levels to bring back its citizens

New Delhi: The government today said 3,726 Indians were evacuated in 15 flights over the last 24 hours from the war-hit Ukraine amid opposition criticism that the Centre has been slow in evacuating its citizens.

The Ministry of External Affairs said more flights have been scheduled to get students home under its evacuation program called "Operation Ganga".

The evacuation process, which began on February 22, has brought back over 6,200 persons so far, including 2,185 persons coming today through 10 special civilian flights, said a statement from the government.

More than 7,400 persons are expected to be brought through special flights in the next two days -while 3,500 citizens are expected to be brought back tomorrow and over 3,900 on March 5.

"A total of 18,000 Indian nationals have left Ukraine since our first advisory was released. 30 flights under Operation Ganga have brought back 6,400 Indians from Ukraine so far. In the next 24 hours, 18 flights have been scheduled," said Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Indian side is in touch with both Ukrainian and Russian authorities to examine the modalities of how Indians can be evacuated from both Kharkiv and Sumy, said Mr Bagchi.

"We are closely following the developments in Kharkiv, Sumy and other cities in eastern Ukraine. As you know yesterday we issued an advisory for Indians in Kharkiv to leave the city by 6PM local time. Pursuant to this a large number of students have left Kharkiv and are currently in the nearby issue of Pisochyn. We estimate this number to be around 1,000," he said.

"We are currently looking at transportation options to move them from there to western Ukraine or southern Ukraine depending on the transportation options," Mr Bagchi said.

The spokesperson said that Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla spoke to the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine on the modalities of evacuation.

"We are in touch with all countries particularly Ukraine and Russia at various levels. Prime Minister Modi spoke to President Putin. Our only intention is to take Indian citizens out as soon as possible," said Mr Bagchi.

Visuals of hundreds of Indians stuck at the Ukrainian borders have been emerging on social media.

Opposition parties, mainly the Congress, have been sharing videos of students' SOS and have urged the government to take urgent measures to evacuate students out of Ukraine.

The government has also appealed to its citizens in Ukraine's Kharkiv to fill up a form to expedite evacuation. Kharkiv is practically under Russian control now, sources have said, adding that Russians are helping with the evacuation of Indian nationals in the city.