Srinagar: Indian students in various educational institutions in Kazakhstan are living in fear as the Central Asian country is embroiled in unrest following which the authorities there have enforced a blockade to thwart widespread protests against the government.
Many students have told their families and friends back home that they are facing food shortages, while some others claim they had limited or no access to clean water and basic necessities like medicines and fuel.
Mujeeb Nazir from South Kashmir’s Shopian is among eight students studying medicine in Kazakhstan. The 24-year-old MBBS student told NewsClick that they could afford only one meal per day due to limited supplies.
“We are sharing our food and had only a single meal yesterday. The local shopkeeper is charging us Rs 1,000 for just one kg rice and two kg onions. We are scared of the consequences if the situation continues like this,” Mujeeb said.
So far, 26 persons and 18 security officers have been reportedly killed in clashes triggered by a hike in fuel prices. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who has declared a state of emergency, has blamed a “foreign hand” in fanning the unrest as people gathered to protest in capital, Almaty.
Another student from Kashmir, who wished to remain anonymous, said the strict curfew had entered the third day and internet services were disrupted. “We cannot go out of our hostel and fetch things like food and medicines. We were not expecting the situation to worsen overnight so we don’t have enough stocks,” the student in Almaty said.
The students said they were caught in a difficult situation as they could not withdraw money from ATMs due to restrictions at a time when things are being sold at higher prices.
Back home, the families of these students are grappling with uncertainty as the situation continues to remain tense amid the 'fire without warning' orders. Parents of these students have made desperate appeals to the government to take steps to ensure their children's safety.
Farooq Ahmed, father of a student in Almaty, told NewsClick: “We are worried as we don't know what is going to happen in the coming days. They are in a desperate state and I feel helpless. I tried to contact the Indian Embassy in Kazakhstan, but no one responded. I have now contacted the Foreign Ministry of India. That’s my only hope,” the resident of Srinagar’s Chanapora said.
The brother of another student told NewsClick that his family had lost contact with his brother who is studying in a medical college in Kazakhstan.
“We don't know how he is managing everything. We want the authorities to look into the matter immediately and ensure their safety,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, P K Pole, said he would reach out to the authorities and seek their intervention to help the students in distress.
"I will take up this matter with the higher authorities and will do the needful for the families in anguish," Pole said.
Adarsh Swaika, Joint Secretary of the Eurasia division of the Union Ministry of External Affairs, has also promised help to the students and their families. “I will take up the matter with higher authorities and see what can be done on the ground,” he said.
The writers are interns with NewsClick in Jammu & Kashmir.