‘We are scared and helpless’: Kashmiri students stranded in Iran

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Srinagar: Kashmiri students stranded in Iran are demanding from the government of India for immediate evacuation as coronavirus scare sweeps the world.

Zainab Khan, a 21-year-old student at Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), told The Kashmir Walla that she is running out of money. She is one of the nearly thirty students stranded at Kish Island, Iran. With the spread of the novel coronavirus, on 27 February, Kish International Airport shut down and Ms. Khan is stuck there for about a month.

Iran is one of the worst affected countries with COVID-19; there have been at least 29,000 positive cases while 2,234 have died.

“Government of India started evacuating students in Iran but there are still a few left in Kish Island,” said Ms. Khan, over a phone call. “We have heard from other students that they [government] have arranged flights for the rest of the people stranded here but the international flights are not operational; we are left here helpless.”

Meanwhile, according to the government of India many students and pilgrims have been evacuated from Iran but the official position on the remaining students remains to “stay put”.

Also Read: ‘What will we eat?’: Migrant workers in Kashmir’s COVID-19 lockdown

Dammu Ravi, an additional secretary in India’s foreign ministry and coordinator for COVID-19, described the situation in Iran as “very, very grave”, reported Economic Times. “If Indians are held up in some place, our advice to them would be to stay put because ideally in such a situation they should be able to make do locally with whatever resources they have,” said Mr. Ravi. “Our missions and ambassadors are in the forefront to support the stranded Indians wherever they are.”

Also Read: Are government forces possible virus carriers in Kashmir?

Irfan Mohidin, a fifth-semester student at TUMS Iran and a resident in Kish Island, says that despite Indian government’s evacuation – “there are still many stranded”. “The students are very panicked and we cannot go from one apartment to another,” said Mr. Mohidin. “We can’t even eat or study properly.”

“Even students in Kish Island haven’t even been screened yet,” said another student from the group, requesting anonymity. “We had booked flight tickets to Tehran where we were supposed to undergo screening but that didn’t happen either. We are so scared and helpless.”

Bhat Burhan is a Multimedia Reporter at The Kashmir Walla.

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