Kashmiri Students stranded in Bhopal. Image Courtesy: Free Press Journal
Bhopal: Close to 400 Kashmiri students stuck in Madhya Pradesh’s state capital have sought help from Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the Union Government to send them back home.
Speaking to NewsClick, the students, currently in Bhopal, have asked the government to make arrangements to send them to Kashmir.
The students are registered in different programmes in various private and state-run colleges in Bhopal, including Barkatullah University, Ram Krishna Dharmarth Foundation (RKDF) University and Rabindranath Tagore University, among others.
"We have prepared a list of 395 Kashmiri students stuck in the state capital. Just as students were brought back from Kota and the Himachal Government sent students from Jammu and Kashmir home, the Madhya Pradesh government should also think about it," said Ashiq Hussain, President of the J&K students association in Bhopal.
Taking to Twitter, Gowher Lone, a student, said: “We, students from Kashmir are stuck here in Bhopal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to go back home. We humbly request you to make some arrangements for us so that we could reach our homes safely.”
“We are left with no other option than begin walking to Kashmir on foot; we cannot bear this any longer,” said Mohammad Umar Athar, another student. He said that since students from other states were being sent back home, arrangements should be made for them as well.
Zahoor Ul Haq Shah is a PhD student in Barkatullah University. He told Newsclick that they tried to contact everyone possible in Kashmir including Members of Parliament, for help, but that none responded.
"Every state government is taking steps to bring back their students stuck in different places across India but Kashmiri students have nobody to look up to," said Shah. He said that his situation was not being helped by his landlord, who asked for rent “not less than 15 times a day”.
Ishtiyaq Ahmad, a student from Indira Priyadarshini College, said that the prices of basic commodities had gone up “drastically in the lock down. Since Bhopal is already a hot-spot of infections with more than 500 cases, it is risky to stay here." He lives in a rented accommodation and has now run out of money and supplies as his parents failed to send him money due to the lockdown.
Ashfaq Mir, a B.Sc Nursing student from Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan University, had an internship at LBS Hospital but left it midway due to fear of a viral infection. “Staying away from the family during Ramazan, in such heat is difficult. All that aside, locals and the police look at us with suspicion whenever we go outside to collect ration,” he added.
Former CM and Congress leader Digvijay Singh wrote two letters to Home Minister Amit Shah over the last two weeks, seeking special care for Kashmiri students stuck in Bhopal. He cited the problems faced by the students and enclosed a list of 238 Kashmiri students in Bhopal.
“I have written to the Union Home Minister again so that he recalls my earlier appeals that the government should show sensitivity towards these students before any unfortunate incident occurs,” Digvijaya Singh said on social media.
Singh argued that since students from other states were being sent back, the Union Government should send these students home. “I had already send a list of the students in my last letter,” he said.
Tulsi Silawat, the State Water Resources Minister said that no decision to send back the students had been taken as yet. “The district borders are sealed and no movement is allowed until further notice. But we can think about this issue after May 3,” he said.