'Help us reach home or we will suffer mental agony': Stranded Kashmiri students appeal for evacuation amid Covid-19 lockdown

Scores of Kashmiri students stranded either at airports or stuck alone in their Paying Guest (PG) accommodations in various parts of the country in view of Covid-19 lockdown have made an emotional plea to the authorities to help them reach back home.

Greater Kashmir received several emails and phone calls from distressed students who said that 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 rations. 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 in Aligarh. “At least let us die with our parents back 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 airport. Unfortunately it got cancelled and we have no place to go here,” a scholar said in an email to Greater Kashmir.

The research scholar further said they approached several authorities for their help but in vain. “Nobody is listening to us, Please help us. We have no option to go back to our institute as they are not allowing us,” he said.

The scholars demanded they should be evacuated to Valley saying that 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 the email.

Another email received by Greater Kashmir read 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 from the last two days despite revealing their complete travel history. “But the authorities don’t allow them to travel to Srinagar. They have been properly tested and they have no symptoms of COVID-19,” the email read.

“We are helpless on the way. It will be your most kindness to help us  to 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 over-all in-charge 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.