Disconnected from families, Kashmiri students in Punjab a worried lot
Even though Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has directed the officials concerned to ensure security of Kashmiri residents in the state, students are still worried as all means of communication has been snapped in the Valley.Updated: Aug 06, 2019, 12:09 IST
Kashmiri students studying in Punjab’s educational institutes are a worried lot as they have been unable to contact their families in the Valley, after authorities imposed Section 144 across Srinagar, snapped internet connections and shutdown mobile services there.
On Monday, the Centre scrapped Article 370 that gave special status of Jammu and Kashmir and took steps to change how the region will be governed.
As Punjab is most favoured destination to pursue higher education by Kashmiri students, hundreds of students from the Valley take admissions every year in various educational institutes in the state.
Even though chief minister Amarinder Singh has directed the officials concerned to ensure security of Kashmiri residents in the state, students are still under constant fear as all means of communication has been snapped in the valley.
Hilal Ahmad, a student pursing M.Sc at a private university in Jalandhar, said, “We are very disturbed and cannot concentrate on studies in this atmosphere. We are unable to contact our family members. We are worried about them.” Like Hilal, many other students shared the same concern. Many students want to go back home but with the restrictions in place, they do not know how to reunite with their families.
“We are far away from home. We have no knowledge about our families’ well-being. We feel helpless,” said a Kashmiri student of a private university in Mohali, adding that no one seems interested in helping them out. Hundreds of students have given applications to dean student welfare (DSW) for going home, but no one has responded.
‘Abrogation of article 370 undemocratic’
Meanwhile, students studying in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) in Ludhiana have dubbed abrogation of Article 370 undemocratic and unconstitutional.
“The residents of the state should have some representation. There should have been a referendum in Kashmir on the issue. We have not been asked whether we want scrapping of Article 370 or not. It is undemocratic and unconstitutional move on part of the government that boasts of being the largest democracy of the world,” said a group of students in PAU.
The students, who were seen glued to television sets and surfing their mobile phones to catch the latest updates on Kashmir, were anxious lot as they cannot contact their family members.
“I am trying to reach out to my father but the call is not going through. All of us are facing similar predicament,” said a PAU student on condition of anonymity.
Students also expressed anguish over creation of Jammu and Kashmir as Union Territory with legislative assembly. “It would be a rubber stamp of the Centre. We do not see any good coming out of the new system,” said the students.
Basit Yousuf, an M.Sc student at a private university in Jalandhar, said “We cannot even a make a call to our families asking them for money as curfew has been imposed all over Kashmir. We don’t have money and we are stuck here. It’s disturbing.”
‘Helpline numbers not working’
“Many helpline numbers were shared on social media, so that people can reach out to police in case of emergency. But those numbers are not working,” said a Kashmiri student Gurmeet Singh.
Meanwhile, Jalandhar senior superintendent of police (rural) Navjot Singh Mahal said, “We are ensuring security to everyone. There is no need to panic.”
Punjab second home
Students, however, were all praise for the hospitable environment in the university and in the state. “We have never faced any problem in the city. People here are very welcoming. Even in the aftermath of Pulwama attack when several incidents of assault on students from Valley were reported in other states, no such incident was reported from the university or anywhere else in the state. Instead, fellow students came to our rescue and offered all kind of help after they learnt that Kashmiri students were under attack,” said the students in PAU hostel.
Dr KC Singh, coordinator youth affairs, GADVASU, said that students were attending their classes as per routine.