“It’s better to die”: Stranded Kashmiris in Mumbai call for help

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Srinagar: As the nationwide lockdown continues to contain the spread of COVID-19, nearly a hundred Kashmiris remain stranded in one of the worst-hit cities Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Dr. Javaid Ahmad Dar, 30, who was working with IKS Health is at home since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in the country. “We made a WhatsApp group and got connected with other stranded Kashmiris,” he told The Kashmir Walla over phone.

“They [authorities] should evacuate people from here as soon as possible; this is a hotspot of coronavirus. We don’t even get essential items here as almost all the markets are shut.”

As of Monday, Mumbai has more than 13,000 number of COVID-19 cases and among them 508 died. Across various states, thousands of Kashmiris have been stranded and posting appeals of evacuation on social media. The Jammu and Kashmir administration has provided transport to many stranded in Bangalore, Delhi, Goa and other cities but still people continue to be stranded.

An employee at a local restaurant in Mumbai, Riyaz Ahmad, 29, says that they don’t know what to do as they don’t have any money. “We filled all the online forms as well as completed all the medical formalities but we are still stranded here and demand immediate evacuation. They have started special train services from Nagpur, which is 900 kilometres from here. We can’t risk our lives by travelling to Nagpur during such a situation.”

Families of the stranded Kashmiris are worried for their kins as the cases are increasing on a daily basis. “Everyday my mother cries while speaking to me over the phone. Authorities are aware about us but are not paying any heed to our pleas nor helping us. They didn’t give us a single thing,” said Riyaz.

At least 879 cases of COVID-19 are reported so far from Jammu and Kashmir, among which ten died. Many stranded brought back and kept at halt in Samba district have also complained that they are not being provided enough facilities.

Tajamul Ahmad Bhat, 22, who is a hotel management student stranded in Mumbai, asked The Kashmir Walla reporter over phone if the J-K administration will evacuate them or not?

“We are in trouble here,” said Bhat. “We don’t even get drinking water. We can’t even ask our families for money because they are in the same situation as us. It’s better to die then to leave now. If they send us poison instead of help, we will happily take it and die. Also we were asked to pay more rent for our accommodation here.”

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