Cut off from families, Kashmiri students face cash crunch
Cut off from their families, thousands of Kashmiri students in Punjab are facing a cash crunch as the Valley remains under strict lockdown for the past two weeks.
“Everyone here is facing monetary problems after restrictions were imposed on August 5. I am not able to pay my room rent now. We don’t know for how long the lockdown will remain so I am buying tickets and going home on August 28,” said Huzaif Abdullah, who studies in a private university at Jalandhar.
On August 5, the government shut off internet and telephone lines in Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370. Hundreds of students returned to the Valley after they lost contact with their families, but those who decided to stay on are finding it sustenance difficult.
Srinagar resident Ahmad, who has spoken to his parents only once since the lockdown began, said, “I could speak for just one minute to my parents. It was very difficult for me to ask for money when they are in a troubled situation.”
Syed Ubaid, a Kashmiri student, said, “Last week I was suffering from cold but I thought one hundred times before buying medicine. Then my brother who studies in Kuwait sent me money. We don’t know for how long we can sustain like this.”
Similarly, around 6,000 Kashmiri students studying in three universities and 26 educational institutes of Mohali and around 300 studying in various colleges of the Panjab University in Chandigarh are facing similar predicament.
Mohammad Rizwan, a computer science student at Chandigarh Group of Colleges (CGC) Jhanjeri, Mohali, said, “We borrow money and essential commodities from a nearby shopkeeper. We have fixed a time frame and told him that once we get the money, we will return him back,”
Another student Zahid Bhat said that he is a kidney patient and has no money for treatment. “I have 10 mm of stone. Doctors have advised me for surgery and they are charging around ₹20,000 but I don’t have that much of money. I don’t have even enough money to buy a bus ticket to home and get my surgery done,” he said.
It was also learnt that some students do not have money to pay their admission fees and accommodation rent.
Faizan Bukhari, a student said. “Some NGOs provided us the essential stock recently. But that will last for a week only. Rest we don’t know what will happen”.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Students Organization president Khawaja Itrat said they are in touch with Kashmiri students. “We are providing them all necessary assistance. Recently, we also distributed essential commodities among the students,” he said.
Since the tension broke out in the valley, many colleges and universities have asked the Kashmiri students to take 10 days break and visit their homes. Around 85% students returned to the Valley after the communication was snapped.
Khalsa Aid to the rescue
Many students have reached out to Khalsa Aid for help. “We are a group of about 20 students and have been helping each other out, but now we have no food stock left. We wrote to Khalsa Aid for help and they helped us yesterday,” said a B-Tech student Ruwaid Wani in Mohali.
Administrator Khalsa Aid, Gurpreet Singh said, “We received many requests from students for help and we provided them with essential items. If students are facing monetary issues they can contact us for help.”
Aman Mital, associate director (Media) Lovely Professional University said, “The date of pending dues for Kashmiri students has been extended. We are also providing counselling to those Kashmiri students who are jittery die to the current situation in the Valley.”