The Indian High Commission in Dhaka has advised a group of Kashmiri students stranded in Bangladesh to not undertake any travel and to not try and cross into India, reported The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. They 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.
Bangladesh on Wednesday reported its fifth death from the coronavirus, Dhaka Tribune reported. However, there has been no new case of the infection in the country in the last 24 hours. Bangladesh has suspended all domestic flights, trains and public transport to fight the pandemic. On Monday, the Bangladesh government declared a 10-day shutdown from March 26.
The students said that their colleges had shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak and the administration has asked them to vacate their hostels and return to India. The high commission said that it has spoken with the college authorities who have agreed to keep the hostels open for the Indian students. “HC had reached out to principals of colleges & they have assured that hostel facilities continue to be available for Indian students,” it said in response to questions from students. “We would like to reiterate that students should not undertake travel to try & cross into India.”
The commission said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked people not to panic but take precautions. “In interest of public health, personal safety & safety of loved ones, we urge all to stay safe in present residences and avoid non-essential movement/travel,” it added. “We urge Indian students also to stay in your hostels & stay protected. If you stay safe, we can break the chain.”
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.
Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has claimed 10 lives in India as of Wednesday. As many as 562 people have been infected with the coronavirus in the country so far. In an attempt to contain the virus’ spread, India enforced a 21-day lockdown starting from Tuesday midnight.
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 the 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”.