Many young Kashmiris living in Delhi have been facing a harrowing time financially after the abrogation of Article 370 followed by the communication blackout back home.
Fifty days on, they are facing a severe shortage of funds and many have been forced to put their careers on stake and return home.
“Kashmiris are very self-conscious when it comes to money. They would rarely ask friends or classmates for it,” said Rakib Chatt, a Korean language student at a university in Delhi.
Some organisations had ostensibly started a campaign to lend money to Kashmiris. “When some of us responded to such ‘offers to help’ on social media, they asked us for a deadline to repay the money,” said Javid, a Ph.D. aspirant. “It was outrageous and insulting,” he added.
“I just appeared for an interview for admission in a university in Delhi. I am worried whether I shall be able to pay the fees or not if I get selected,” said Javid, sharing that his father had been martyred in 1990s and his family was not financially sound.
“You can’t even ask for money from your parents when they themselves are unable to eke out a livelihood due to the situation in the Valley,” pointed out Rakib.
“The government has revoked article 370 and that too without any consultation with the Kashmiris. It should now be compensating the financial losses being incurred by Kashmiris due to loss of means of livelihood as well as paying the fees of Kashmiri students studying around the country,” he added.
“One of my friends recently got extremely upset over not having any money at all and felt homesick. Sensing that he was on the verge of a mental breakdown, we arranged for some money and sent him home,” added Rakib.
A UPSC aspirant hailing from Kashmir who wanted to join a coaching institute in Karol Bagh was asked to remit 60 per cent of the coaching fees in advance and the balance in two installments. When he requested that he be allowed to study without wasting time by promising that he would pay the money once he was able to establish contact with his family in Kashmir, the coaching institute said, “Can you guarantee when the communication will be restored?”
Kashmiri students say since food alone costed them at least Rs 200 per day, they were forced to skip meals, compromising on nutrition. They also live mostly in ghettoes and eight to ten of them had to share a 2BHK or 3 BHK flat among them, hampering their studies.
Racial profiling is another big issue. “I was asked to vacate a room because I was not able to pay the rent on time as well as because I am a Kashmiri,” said Javid.
Sumaira, a Ph.D. student, said she did not have to face financial shortage because her father had come to Delhi before August 5 to stay with her. “But I understand what my friends have gone through. Everyone’s father cannot come and stay and not everyone is pursuing Ph.D. either,” she said.