Lockdown: Kashmiri students stuck in Agra seek UP CM's help

Kishor Dwivedi

Agra (UP), Apr 26 (PTI) Amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, a dozen Kashmiri students are stuck in Agra and have sought the help of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath so that they can return to their homes safely.

The students, including four women, are aged between 19 and 25 years. They are students of the Agra University and staying in rented accommodations in Naseerabad colony of Khandari area in the city.

The students, enrolled in different programmes, had stayed back due to their examinations in March and thought they would return to their homes in Kashmir once the lockdown was over, one of them said.

'We had no clue that the lockdown would last so long and the situation would worsen here in Agra also in terms of the coronavirus outbreak. We have run out of money and food supplies, the banks are not working, going out is a risk because the city is a COVID-19 hotspot and back home our families are also worried for us,” Manzoor Wani, 24, told PTI.

Wani, pursuing MSc in Forestry, said the Agra administration has been helpful in providing them food packets but also claimed that three of the students had fallen ill with diarrhoea after consuming 'poori-sabzi' around a week ago.

'After that we requested for dry ration and got some rice. For five days, we had just rice and salt,' Wani claimed, adding that taking food packets was risky and if by chance any of the students gets infected with the virus, the trouble will only increase for them.

The 12 students, who belong to Ganderbal, Handwara, Kulgam, Kishtwar, Poonch, Rajaouri, and Budgam, are now hoping for help from the Adityanath government, which recently sent hundreds of buses to Rajasthan's Kota city, an education hub, to bring back thousands of students belonging to UP.

'We have reached out to our public representatives in Kashmir but they are unable to help us. We urge UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to help us and send us back to our homes,' Wani said.

PTI's calls to the Agra district magistrate fetched no response, while a senior UP government official said there was no arrangement for the students to go back to Kashmir amid the lockdown.

'We will arrange food for the students,” the officer told PTI.

Meanwhile, Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Sunday assured help to the Kashmiri students stranded in Agra.

'A reassuring piece of information for anxious parents in Jammu and Kashmir. 376 J&K students in Kota set to return tomorrow. All arrangements finalised. The Narendra Modi government stands committed to the well-being of these youngsters,' the minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office posted on Facebook.

Wani commented on the post, 'Hundreds of J&K students who had been stranded in Kota Rajasthan have started their journey towards Home state today. Sir What about Us those Stuck in Agra UP, Sir cases are increasing here day by day. Plz evacuate us as soon as possible. (sic).' In response to this comment, Singh, the Lok Sabha MP from J-K's Udhampur constituency, said, 'Sure Manzoor Wani. One by one. As soon as possible.' As of Saturday evening, there were 371 positive cases of coronavirus, including eight deaths in Agra, the maximum in UP, according to an official state government figure. PTI KIS SNE SNE