By Soutik Biswas
An Indian-born doc who was holed up successful a basement astatine location successful war-torn Ukraine with his favored large cats for months says helium is present separated from his animals.
After the warfare began earlier this year, Gidikumar Patil, who is single, had pledged helium would not permission his location without his pets. He lived and worked arsenic an orthopaedic doc successful a infirmary successful Svavtove, a tiny municipality successful Severodonetsk, located successful the Luhansk portion of eastbound Ukraine.
Mr Patil, who is 42 and an Ukrainian national since 2016, bought the animals from a zoo successful the capital, Kyiv, astir 2 years ago. The antheral feline is simply a 24-month-old "lepjag", a uncommon hybrid of a antheral leopard and a pistillate jaguar, portion the female, a achromatic panther, is 14 months old.
Two weeks ago, Mr Patil ran retired of wealth and crossed implicit into Poland to gain a surviving truthful helium could support feeding his cats. The infirmary wherever helium worked was unopen aboriginal successful the warfare and has present been destroyed successful a weaponry attack, arsenic Ukrainian forces person made accelerated gains and person recaptured territory successful the Russian-occupied region.
Now Mr Patil is surviving successful a dormitory successful a hostel successful Warsaw with different Ukrainian refugees, looking to gain a surviving and anxious astir the destiny of his cats.
He says the net successful Svavtove stopped moving 2 weeks ago, and helium is checking connected his cats regular by calling up a section husbandman who is taking attraction of them.
"The caretaker tells maine me the animals were missing me. The 'lepjag' didn't devour decently for astir a week. The achromatic panther was successful confusion. I privation to prevention the animals and instrumentality them out, but I truly don't cognize how," Mr Patil told the BBC connected the telephone from Warsaw.
Mr Patil says helium was forced to permission location successful Ukraine with a container carrying his clothes, $100 and a fewer 1000 roubles successful cash. He had exhausted each his savings and sold portion of his workplace land, 2 apartments, 2 cars, his motorcycle and camera for a small implicit $100,000 (£89,908).
After the warfare began, helium says, helium spent up to $300 feeding his cats - immoderate 5kg of nutrient (mostly chicken) - each day.
"As the concern worsened and weaponry attacks inched person to my location and I ran retired of money, I decided to permission the cats with the caretaker, transverse the border, gain immoderate wealth and return," Mr Giri said. He said helium had kept capable nutrient to past 3 months successful the freezer for his cats and paid the caretaker $2,400 arsenic 3 months of wages.
But plans haven't rather worked retired that way.
After a 12-hour-long dilatory minibus thrust done a warfare portion to the nearest border, helium was taken retired of the conveyance by patrolling Russian soldiers and thrown into an underground country for 3 days for interrogation, Mr Patil said.
"I was taken retired of the bus, blindfolded and taken to a tiny underground compartment wherever they gave maine crockery and breadstuff and interrogated me. They looked astatine my individuality papers and since they were made successful Kyiv, they suspected I was a spy, giving accusation to the Ukrainian military."
Mr Giri said helium told the Russian soldiers that helium had "taken nary sides successful the war", and ran a YouTube channel connected his cats with astir 60,000 followers and that helium had been stranded astatine location with his animals. "I showed them my videos and my channel," helium said.
"On the 3rd nighttime of my detention, a Russian serviceman came up to maine and told maine his woman had watched my videos and told him that their captive was not a partisan but an carnal lover. He said, 'Sleep good tonight.'"
Next morning, they fto him free. They confiscated his passport and gave him a missive of identity, says Mr Patil.
They dropped him adjacent the Polish border, which helium crossed by providing his biometrics and telling his communicative to borderline officials.
The Polish authorities gave him a "paper visa" which allows him to enactment successful the state for 90 days, helium said. Then helium took a nighttime autobus to Warsaw.
Now, with the concern successful his hometown worsening, Mr Patil says he's clueless astir erstwhile helium volition beryllium capable to instrumentality to his cats. His household is sending him wealth from location successful the confederate Indian authorities of Andhra Pradesh, wherever helium was born.
"I person contacted the Indian embassy successful Kyiv a fewer times connected telephone and WhatsApp, asking them whether they could instrumentality my cats retired of Ukraine. They told maine they don't woody with chaotic animals," helium said. Earlier this week, helium says helium visited a zoo successful Warsaw and sought their assistance successful taking retired his animals from the warfare zone.
"Somehow, I privation my cats back. If the Indian authorities tin assistance and prime them up and instrumentality them location to a zoo oregon a wood successful India, it is fine. I conscionable privation to prevention them."