Indian callousness regarding Kashmiris rights have now grown beyond the state of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJ&K). On the one hand, the fear of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) has seeped in IIOJ&K. Health community has, time and again, asked for mass testing in order to identify asymptomatic cases to save the region from any catastrophe as the infected cases are surging with each passing day. “So far less than 5% of people tested for the infection, according to medical experts”. Official data mentions that “60,000 people have been kept under observation and in quarantine. But only 2,100 tests have been conducted, in which 184 people have tested positive, in the region home to around 8 million people”. While talking to Anadolu Agency, health workers battling the pandemic said “there has been a constant increase in the number of people kept under observation. But the number of actual testing is very low”. Now, the Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) has called on the government of India and Jammu and Kashmir to reach out to the MBBS students of J&K stuck in Kyrgystan as they are facing immense problems due to scarcity of food items and cash.
As per the statement by the Association, Kyrgystan is second most popular destination of Kashmiri students in pursuit of MBBS, but the local government has completely ignored their needs and aspirations. “According to our estimates there are around 500 students from J&K, who are pursuing MBBS in various medical colleges in Kyrgyzstan. The number of students is next only to Bangladesh but ironically the country is not on the radar of our officials,” said G N Var president PSAJK. “Kyrgyzstan has announced lockdown to arrest the spread of coronavirus and they have vacated students from the hostels which have been converted into quarantine centres. Now our students are living in rented apartments with limited resources.”Because of this lockdown and inhumane attitude, the students are unable to meet their ends sufficiently. “According to numerous reports,“one of the students from Maharashtra was recently fined for Rs 3 lakh for venturing out. This has created panic among student community. Due to closure of banks even ATMs have run dry in Kyrgystan and our students are unable to get cash for buying the essential items,” said Var.
The Association said that students are aware of the current situation and are not pressing for evacuation but need of the hour is to help them in Kyrgyzstan itself. “The students know that in current scenario of cancelled flights it is difficult to reach India. They just need help in the country itself. Unfortunately, they tried to call Indian embassy in Bishkek many times but the embassy never answered their call. They have been left to fend for themselves in this lockdown,” said Var. “We request Indian government to direct the embassy to listen to the stranded students and help them in this hour of distress. It is very sad that the concerned embassy is not offering even moral support to these students.”
The Association appealed the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to take up the matter with relevant quarters at New Delhi so that some sort of relief is given to the students in Kyrgyzstan. “Students are mainly in Bishkek, Osh and Jalabad and due to lockdown, they are in house arrest. Their parents are also distressed in J&K and they don’t know what to do. So, government should take up the issue and provide some relief to them,” said Var.
It has been since ages that Kashmiris are suffering under India inhumane policies. Though international opinion leaders and decision-makers has been reached out by Kashmiris as well as Pakistan, but it does not have any effects on Indian actions. With the arrival of COVID in the Valley, India has gotten the opportunity to remove IIOJ&K from global attentions. In this regards, international community together with corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and investors should boycott against India, until human rights abuses do not stop against Muslims in IOJK as well as with India.
It is likely that the space for Kashmiris will further shrink in post-coronavirus as the “world will be volatile where powerful nations will be pitted against one another and there would be a sharp rise in ethnic and religious nationalism and Islamophobia, trade wars, and stiff competition on new technologies,” President Sardar Masood Khan said. However, the People of IOJK are not going to capitulate their freedom struggle until they attain their promised self-determination. With increasing Indian atrocities, anxiety and frustration is increasing in IIOJ&K that will result in huge catastrophe in the near future, if not taken seriously.