Evacuate J-K students stranded in Iran: Altaf Bukhari to GoI

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Former People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader, Altaf Bukhari, who is soon launching a new political party. Photograph by Umer Asif for The Kashmir Walla

Srinagar: Former finance minister, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Wednesday appealed the Government of India to evacuate the residents of Jammu and Kashmir particularly the students and businessmen stranded in Iran which is emerging as the second focal point after China for the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Bukhari said that the rising number of deaths and number of infected people in Iran has sent shivers down the spine among the residents of Jammu and Kashmir who are stranded in Iran and their families here.

“As we know that Iran has confirmed three more deaths and 34 new infections on Tuesday, taking the country’s overall death toll to 15 and infection tally to 95. I am in touch with the ministry of external affairs government of India and have submitted details of over 240 J&K students who are stuck in Shiraz, Tehran and other cities of Iran,” Bukhari said, while appealing the government of India to act on the details and take measures for safe evacuation of these students at an earliest.

The former minister observed that it seems that the ground situation in Iran has worsened. “Iran has been hit by the deadliest coronavirus outbreak by far outside China. I have information from the stranded students who study in Tehran University of Medical Sciences and Shiraz University of Medical Science (SUMS), Iran that over 300 students from J&K are studying in various provinces of the country. All of them are currently safe but they apprehend contamination if they are not evacuated from Iran very soon,” Bukhari briefed the ministry of external affairs government of India.

The former finance minister appealed the government of India especially the Prime Minister Modi and the external affairs minister to arrange a chartered flight for these students and a separate quarantine facility for them.

He expressed serious concern about coronavirus which is said to be spreading to new parts of Iran, as one new case was also reported in each of the provinces of Fars and Khorasan, Razavi, as well as Qeshm Island on Tuesday.

“It is a matter of serious concern for all of us especially the families of our stranded students who said that despite being Iran’s epicentre of the outbreak, Qom city, which is one of largest metropolis in Iran is yet to be quarantined,” Bukhari remarked, while urging the government of India to consider operating a special flight to Shiraz or to a nearby functional airport and airlift the J&K residents particularly the students stranded there to bring them back to India.

Bukhari also appealed the Prime Minister Modi to give necessary directions to Indian Embassy in Iran to act proactively and provide necessary assistance to J&K students stranded in Shiraz city, some of them, having already mailed their particulars to the Indian Embassy officials few days back.

Former finance minister also appealed the Indian Embassy in Iran to contact other stranded students and residents of Jammu and Kashmir who are marooned there in connection with their business and other official engagements. “These stranded J&K residents should be asked to immediately furnish their details and travel plans in order to check the possibilities to initiate their early and safe evacuation,” he advocated.

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