Stranded Kashmiri students appeal for evacuation amid covid-19 lockdown

Scores of Kashmiri students stranded at different places across the country have made a fervent appeal to the J&K administration to help them reach home.

Greater Kashmir received several emails and phone calls from the distressed students saying that because of the lockdown across the country in the wake of covid-19 spread, they were stranded at airports or in their paying-in rooms. They said that in this “hopeless” situation they will either starve to death or suffer mental agony.

“There are only three of us here in the entire building. We don’t have enough ration. The Tiffin service has also been closed for the past two days. The guy who used to deliver potable water has also stopped coming here,” said a girl student from Aligarh. “At least let us die with our parents at home,” she said while appealing the authorities to arrange buses or cabs for them.

The student, who requested not to reveal her identity, said they were even ready to shift to a quarantine home in J&K. “At least, we will have a hope to reunite with our parents after 10 or 15 days,” she said.

Hundreds of Kashmiri students are stranded in various parts of the country due to the lockdown. “We are two students from Kashmir stranded at Chennai airport. We had visited the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory for training for our PhD related work. Our flight was scheduled in the morning yesterday to Srinagar. Unfortunately it got cancelled and we have no place to go here,” a scholar said in an email to Greater Kashmir.

The research scholar said they had approached several authorities for help but in vain. “Nobody is listening to us, Please help us. We cannot even go back to our institute as they are not allowing us,” he said. The scholars demanded they should be evacuated to Valley saying they will follow all procedures of quarantine. “Please evacuate us somehow from here otherwise we may starve to death. My mother (a widow) is waiting for me,” read an email.

Another email received by Greater Kashmir said that two boys, Mir Amaan Ullah and Nasir Mehran Lone of Chanapora who were travelling from Bangladesh are now stuck at Lakhanpur sub district hospital for last two days despite revealing their complete travel history. “But the authorities don’t allow us to travel to Srinagar. We have been properly tested and have no symptoms of COVID-19,” the email read. “We are helpless on the way. It will be your most kindness to help us get our children handed over to district authority Srinagar so that they will get proper care in this troubled time,” the email read. Another e-mail received from a student said that they had booked their flight from Delhi to Srinagar on 25 March but were stranded due to suspension of air travel.

“Initially the government in its official statement said domestic flights won’t be shut but later on next day they issued an order of shutting down all domestic flights. We are stuck here and have no accommodation here,” a student said in an email.

He said there are hundreds of students and other Kashmiris who are stuck in various parts of India like Delhi and Bangalore. “The government did not give us enough time to reschedule our flights due to which we are stranded here,” the student said. When contacted, Advisor to Lieutenant Governor J&K, Baseer Ahmed Khan, who is also overall incharge of coronavirus control efforts for Kashmir division said they are reviewing the situation. “We will take a decision accordingly after taking a review of the situation,” he said.