For the international students in Pune, Saturday’s blast has come as a shock, with many being pressured by relatives to return home even as institutes are taking immediate steps to build confidence among the 20,000-large student community in the city.
Saudi Arabia's Maadi (25), a student of Wadia College, has been staying in Pune for three years and has many friends here. But his parents want him to return now. Maadi, however, doesn’t want to go back.
On the contrary, 27-year-old Farzad from Iran is scared and feels very unsafe. He has decided to stop attending classes and return to Iran as soon as he finishes his examination.
Echoing Maadi's apprehension is 23-year-old Ahmed Shoaib from Tajikistan. Shoaib has decided to fly back immediately. He will return to Pune after some weeks, he said.
But, for Iraqi student Ahmed, this is ‘just another incident’. Hailing from a country that has seen innumerable blasts in the last decade, Ahmed has decided to stay back, finish his education and then return to Iraq.
The panic is not confined to just international students. Local students are also expressing fear. Anuj Agarwal (18), and his friend Indraneil Khedekar, were at the bakery on Saturday. “I knew the place very well. I knew the owner and the waiters,” Indraneil said. “Their chocolate walnut cake, green tea and tiramisu were exquisite.”
Meanwhile, colleges are working on issuing fresh guidelines for international students to quell unnecessary panic.
The University of Pune has already started 24-hour counseling sessions for international students, Dr Vasudha Garde, director of the university's International Students Centre told HT on Monday.
“Embassies and local guardians have been contacted to ensure safety of their wards,” she said.
Symbiosis Institute, which has students from 76 countries, has advised them to stay in hostels and carry identity cards every time they step out.