A group of Kashmiri students in Bangladesh were left stranded near the country’s border with India, as the Centre sealed the borders and suspended all international airlines to contain the spread of the communicable coronavirus disease, Greater Kashmir reported on Tuesday.
The administration of various institutes of Bangladesh have asked the Kashmiri students to vacate their hostels and return to India, an unidentified student told the newspaper. “But, we were not allowed to enter Indian side and we are stuck at the border from past many hours.”
Another unidentified Kashmiri student claimed that their airline tickets from Kolkata to Delhi have been confirmed, but they are stuck near the West Bengal border, from where they are not permitted to move further. “We cannot stay here as it it too risky,” the student said. “We are literally on road, help us, save us, we are on verge of death.”
The students have also issued an appeal to the Ministry of External Affairs, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to facilitate the opening of India’s border with Bangladesh and allow them a safe passage to the country.
Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Baseer Khan told Kashmir Today that he is looking into the situation. “I will take up the issue with the Government of India as well as the authorities in Bangladesh and will put all efforts to bring back the students at the earliest,” he said.
Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Pandurang Kondbarao Pole, however, expressed helplessness over the matter. “ It is very difficult for the students to return now,” he said, according to Greater Kashmir. “They should contact principal resident commissioner in New Delhi to register their grievance.”
Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has claimed 10 lives in India as of Tuesday after a 65-year-old man with a travel history to the United Arab Emirates died in Mumbai. As many as 492 people have been infected with the coronavirus in the country so far. In an attempt to contain the virus’ spread, 36 states and Union Territories went into either complete or partial lockdown, with strict action taken against those violating curbs in some parts.
A week after banning all international flights from landing in India, the Centre on Monday announced that no domestic commercial flights will operate in India from Wednesday in wake of the pandemic. Domestic scheduled commercial airlines have been asked to cease operations from 11.59 pm on Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday, Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing concern that the continued operation of flights was a “huge breach” of the lockdown imposed by the government to check the spread of coronavirus. She urged him to stop all flights coming in to the state so the lockdown could be imposed in “letter and spirit”.