Amid the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, over 2000 students from Jammu and Kashmir are stranded in Kyrgyzstan's Osh region for almost two months. A video of a group of medical students from State University, holding placards and appealing to the Jammu and Kashmir government and Government of India to evacuate them, has stirred havoc on social media.
From running out of money to borrowing essentials, undergoing depression to being pressured by landlords to pay rent, the students' appeal for evacuation has fallen on deaf ears as nobody has so far reached out to them. The total number of coronavirus cases have mounted to 1,270 and so far 14 deaths have been recorded.
In an exclusive conversation with International Business Times, India the medical students spoke about their plight and how their difficulties have spiked amid the pandemic.
Dr Badeeyah Muskan, a final year medical student of the International Medical Faculty of Osh State University, whose video has taken Twitter by storm, spoke in length about the situation.
'Asked to fill forms for evacuation which were rejected later'
Badeeyah expressed, "This region has its own international airport but no one came to evacuate us. Four flights arrived in Bishkek which is approximately 800 Kilometres away from Osh which was for Indian states like Hyderabad, UP, Rajasthan and Delhi. But there was no direct flight for Srinagar."
On speaking about receiving help from the Indian Embassy, she said, "The students were earlier asked to fill forms by the Indian Embassy of the region. The forms were divided into four categories required for evacuation like for candidates who were pregnant, fallen sick, if there has been a death in the family and a separate category for the students. "
"We all filled the form in the 'students' category as asked and our forms were rejected as the embassy said only people who have an emergency can head back home."
Proud to have such Kashmiri doctors. @DrShahTarfarosh is a psychiatrist speciality registrar also a Researcher at the Oxford University England. He has created a formula for the #Covid_19 Vaccine. Check it out @WHO @CDCgov @CDCemergency @CDCGlobal @USCDCNIGERIA @ndtv https://t.co/xpEZJbISG5
— Dr. Salfiyah - #StayHomeSaveLives (@dr_salfiyah) May 15, 2020
Talking in dismay, she further added, "60% of us live in private accommodations and the landlords have started to pressurise us to pay up the rent. We can't even go to hostels as the local authorities have already turned them into quarantine facilities and relocated the students who already lived in the hostel."
A 1st-year Indian student recently died of Pneumonia and unfortunately the body could not even be sent home. We are shattered and need to be evacuated immediately."
'At least evacuate 400 students who need immediate help'
On failing to receive any response from the Centre or the state government, Badeeyah added, "We are almost 2000 students here, we understand if we can not be evacuated altogether but at least send 400 students who are desperately in need of going home. They are from the lower economic background and need to be sent home as soon as possible."
"Students are living under desperate conditions, they have borrowed money from their seniors who themselves have exhausted their savings. Especially during Ramadan, our stocked essentials are also getting exhausted."
Unable to connect to family as internet lines are snapped in Kashmir
"The only way to connect to our families and keep them updated is via the internet but unfortunately, it gets very difficult to connect to anybody in Kashmir. We try to get in touch with our parents but it is sad that they themselves can't do much due to the unstable internet connection in the Valley.
Another student living in the hostel said, "We have been under quarantine for two months in the college hostel, our semester exams are over and our college will be shut for three months. We request the government to evacuate us, also request them for a direct flight from Osh to Srinagar."
(Awaiting quote from Embassy of Indian in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)