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J&K students a worried lot: Fail to hear kin, running out of money

Sitting hundreds of miles away, they are spending days with prayers on their lips for the safety of their near and dears one's back home in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir.

punjab Updated: Sep 17, 2014 23:18 IST
Usmeet Kaur
Usmeet Kaur
Hindustan Times

Sitting hundreds of miles away, they are spending days with prayers on their lips for the safety of their near and dears one's back home in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir.

Every now and then, they dial the number of their parents or brothers and sisters on their mobile phones, hoping to establish contact with them. These 53 odd students from J&K at Khalsa College just want someone to respond their calls as floods wreaked havoc in the beautiful Valley and also cut-off communication networks.

At their hostels, they remained glued to television anxiously to get the latest news from their home state; however, the pictures of wide-spread devastation on television only leads to further remorse and many of them rush back to their rooms, where there is no one to watch them crying.

Of the 53 students, 42 are girls staying at Khalsa College hostel. A team of Hindustan Times met them on the campus to share their plight; however, many of them broke down in the middle of conversation.
"We don't even know if our parents, brothers and sisters are alive or not. All we can do is to keep trying to establish contact with them or with someone whom we know. We just want to hear a friendly voice on the cell phone," said a Kashmiri student, while watching news on television at the common room in her hostel.

Sharmeen Shabir, a student of MSc physics, who belongs to Sopore in Baramullah district, said, "On September 5, I had last spoken to my family and everything seemed to be fine by then. However, the very next day, when I called them up after hearing about the flood, the network was out of order."

Thereupon Shabir like other students from her home state could not concentrate on studies. She remained tense all through the day trying to establish contact with her kin.

"All I can do is cry with my other Kashmiri friends. Our exams are on, but I just cannot study," she said as she broke down, to be consoled by some of her hostel friends.

She spoke of the lush green Valley that she had left behind a few months back when she came to Khalsa College for her post graduate studies. "I can imagine what it will be now, the beauty of the Valley must have been ravaged by the floods," she added.

Another student Gurmeet Kaur from Pulwana district said 16 days had passed since she heard from her parents.

"News channels tell us about rising tolls. I am waiting for my exams to be over, and then I will rush back to my home whatever means it takes, I will reach there," she said, while expressing disappointment that the road to her home district would have been washed away by the flood.

She did not hesitate to admit that she was running short of money, and if she does not get it from home soon, she may not be able to pay her mess expenses at the hostel and other monthly charges.

"I would like to make a humble request to our college authorities to back us financially and be lenient with our attendance, as we might have to miss classes to go back home when things are normalised," she added.

Another student, Bimaljit Kaur, too spoke about financial problems and urged the college authorities to defer their monthly bills. In fact, most of the Kashmiri students are running short of money, while unable to establish contact with their parents. They fear that even after normalcy returns to the Valley, it will be extremely difficult for their parents to arrange and send them money immediately.

Among Kashmiri boys at the college, Irfan Ahmed was lucky as he got a call from his parents. "On Tuesday, I got a call from my parents. They said they were fine and asked me not to worry about them. They asked me to concentrate on my exams," said Irfan, adding that his parents did not speak anything about the devastation caused by the flood to their home.

"I think there will be at least 4-5 feet water in my house in Srinagar and our apple orchard will also have been destroyed," he added, worrying whether it would be possible for his parents to pay for his education considering the losses inflicted by the flood.

Ajaz Majeed from Badambagh in Sopore too was lucky to have established contact with his parents two days back. He just wants his examinations to be over so that he can rush back home to see his parents.

Khalsa College principal Mehal Singh told HT: "As a large number of students from J&K are studying in our college, it becomes our responsibility to collect donations and send some relief for flood victims in Srinagar. We will try to send our Kashmiri students back home. As far as attendance is concerned, it will definitely be considered sympathetically."

First Published: Sep 17, 2014 23:17 IST