Waking up to updates of flights taking off to other Indian states from Kazakhstan, more than 80 students belonging to Jammu and Kashmir find themselves stranded in Kazakhstan for over 70 days waiting for an evacuation call amid the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.
For these Kashmiri students, who are stranded within the four walls of their hostel dorms, the coronavirus lockdown is more than just physical distress as they find themselves reeling under the bout of a major mental health crisis.
In an exclusive telephonic conversation with International Business Times, India, Kashmiri students opened up about their mental health and adversities as they remain stranded for over 70 days without adequate food and essentials.
'We are on the verge of depression and frustration'
Aqib Ali, a medical student of West Kazakhstan Marat Ospanov Medical University, expressed, "Initially, I booked tickets to return home on March 19 which was cancelled due to the pandemic. Gradually, flights from Astana started operating for students only belonging to Rajasthan. Almaty also started sending students belonging to Telangana and other South Indian states. But our appeal was rejected."
"When students from J&K questioned the Indian Embassy in Kazakhstan as to why flights were not arranged for Srinagar, we were told that flights can not be arranged for only a few students as we are only 80."
We are on the verge of depression and frustration. The lockdown is already affecting us mentally and we are unable to connect to our families who themselves have unstable internet connection. Please evacuate us from here." - Aqib Ali, student of West Kazakhstan Medical University
'Mailed a list of stranded Kashmiri students, no response from J&K govt'
On being asked if they have made any efforts to reach out to the authority, he said, "We have directly reached out to the Indian Embassy, the Indian Government, Jammu and Kashmir administration. Left mails, dropped messages and did everything in a systematic procedure but we have not received any confirmation from the authorities."
"Another flight has been added to Nur-Sultan but none arranged for students from Jammu and Kashmir. Please we appeal to the Indian government, Jammu and Kashmir government and elected leaders of the state, get us out of here. We have no money, food is not enough."
Speaking on behalf of the other students, Aqib continued, "As we have completed our online exams, Kashmiri students usually head back home before the next academic year commences but this time we are stuck in our hostel rooms as nobody is responding to our evacuation appeal. We will have to pay the hostel fee for the next semester also. Where will we get the money from."
Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan addresses the situation
Taking cognisance of the situation, Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan Prabhat Kumar tweeted, "We have proposed flights for J&K students in the next phase of evacuation beginning in the first week of June. Most of you have already registered with us. If not please do so. Details are available on the embassy's Facebook and Twitter page."
7,234 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kazakhstan, death toll hits 35
The medical students, belonging to various districts of Jammu and Kashmir, are studying in five major universities of Aktobe, Astana, Almaty region of Kazakhstan.
West Kazakhstan Marat Ospanov medical university, Astana medical university, Kazakh medical university, Semey State Medical University and Al Farabi Kazakh National University are few colleges where the students remain stranded. So far Kazhkastan has reported 7,234 confirmed coronavirus cases and the death toll stands at 35.