Living under constant fear and distress, thousands of Kashmiri students are stranded in various countries with their families back in the Valley worried about their health and well-being.
Thousands of Kashmiri students in Ukraine, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Iran and several other countries are stranded there because of travel ban in view of the Coronavirus lockdown. Some are running out of money without receiving any support from the governments in these countries. These have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to evacuate them from there.
In Ukraine, at least 200 Kashmiri students are stranded. Mohammad Aasif Tariq, who is studying medicine at Sumi State University in Ukraine, said they have been lodged in a crowded hostel room.
“We are around 500 Indian students who have been lodged in large hostel. There are around 200 Kashmiri students studying in various universities of Ukraine. There is also a scarcity of medicines including sanitisers and masks. We should be evacuated to India as we fear getting infected,” Tariq said.
Similarly, more than 5,000 Indian students are enrolled in different colleges and university in Kyrgyzstan. Among them, over 800 are Kashmiris who are stranded there.
A Kashmiri female student, who is a pursuing medicine from Medical University at Osh in Kyrgyzstan, said they have been left at the mercy of God.
“We have been under complete lockdown. But nobody is asking us about food or water. We feel unsafe here and are being treated unwell. Nobody is concerned about us,” she said.
She said they live under constant panic because of the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Osh, as the city has become the epicentre of the COVID-19 spread there. “Please take us out from here. We want to go home and be in quarantine there,” she said in a broken voice.
Another student of the same university said they have been vacated from university hostels. “Our hostels have been turned into quarantine centres. We are putting up in private accommodation. We are running short of money. We don’t know how to feed ourselves,” the student said.
Narrating her woeful tale, a student from Jalalabad University fear they may die because of fear and hunger.
“We are already running out of money. We don’t know how to feed ourselves under these circumstances. Nobody is concerned about us,” she said, appealing Indian government to raise the issue with Kyrgyzstan so that they are at least provided food.
“My brother is studying in Kyrgyzstan. We don’t know how he lives there. We are worried over his safety,” said Mudassir Ahmad, a resident of Baramulla.
He said students were living under fear that they might get infected. “They want to return but because of the travel ban, they cannot. My brother told us that they are running short of money. We don’t know who will feed them there,” he said.
Similarly, Kashmiri students have been stranded in Bangladesh due to the sealing of borders amid the 21-day lockdown announced to combat COVID-19.
“We were asked to vacate hostels by the college administration in Bangladesh but were not allowed to go to India,” one of the students said.
To stop the spread of COVID-19, a 21-day lockdown has been announced in the country, with all flights cancelled and borders with other countries sealed.
Similarly, 30 pilgrims who are stranded in Iran said none are coming to their rescue.
One of the stuck pilgrims said that they had arrived in Iran to visit shrines and other religious places, but got stuck due to the fast spread of the Coronavirus.
“We are in a huddle, all together 30 including an infant and a minor. Take us to India, we want to die there. We don’t want to die in Iran,” said the pilgrim over phone.
He claimed that despite repeated requests and even protests registered by them in front of the Indian Embassy in Iran, nothing has happened.
Hundreds of Indian students including Kashmiris stranded in the UK have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to organise a rescue flight amid the ongoing travel ban enforced by India to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Advisor to the Governor in Jammu and Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, said students should not worry and panic. “The government is making all efforts that students should not face any inconvenience and be evacuated at the earliest,” he said.