LONDON: An Indian businessman living in Ukraine for 30 years has revealed how his business of manufacturing packaged food to avoid radioactivity from a nuclear attack helped him when he fled to Kyiv with his Ukrainian wife.
Hemant Pathak (59), an Indian national with permanent residence in Ukraine, left the capital a week ago with his wife Svitlana, a Ukrainian and Indian staff member and two other Indian friends who run a cafe in Kyiv. His factory is under security and he has left all his belongings in his house, even as the capital is ready for war.
They drove to the Polish border in Ustilug in two cars at night, stopping at a petrol station to sleep for three hours. The journey, which should have taken eight hours, took 30 hours. “More than 100 kilometers of cars were running in a line towards the border. We didn’t encounter any missiles or bombs, just a lot of traffic and panic. Petrol stations had empty shelves,” said Pathak. But they were able to live longer with perishable food produced at his factory, which he claims stays fresh for years and may even survive a nuclear attack he developed.
Her daughter (22) and her Ukrainian boyfriend went out in Lviv because the lover was not allowed to leave Ukraine. “They are being forced to fight,” Pathak said. Even Lviv is now preparing to attack.
The rest went to Warsaw where they are staying at the Hindu Bhavan temple, although Pathak and his wife are in a hotel. Readers are fatalistic about what is happening now. “I am not interested in sitting and crying for my past in Ukraine. I cannot sit idle, so I can start a factory in Poland or Slovakia,” he said.
When Pathak first arrived in Ukraine in 1991, there were very few Indians settled there, only a few students. Now there are a few thousand.
His uncle had a large business with Russia since 1956, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he asked Pathak to move to New Delhi, then to establish business in the former Soviet republics. “I like the energy of Ukraine. The people inside are very much like Indians. That’s why I decided to stay,” he said.
Readers do not blame Russia for the invasion. “The dispute has been going on for eight years. I live near the airport and for the last five months western ammunition, tanks and other machinery are coming in. Russian troops arrived at the border much later. This is not a Ukrainian war. This is a war of other countries.”
As far as India’s stay away from the UNSC is concerned, he said: “Maybe India knows more truth and does not want to get involved.”

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