Published: 14th September 2021
India is their last resort for freedom: Why these Afghan students of JNU are dying to come to India
They are eager to come to India and finish their education but said that no one helped them, even when India started issuing special e-visas to Afghans
When Bashir Seddiqui and his wife Fatima Yusufi enrolled for the MA International Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University's School of International Studies, they were excited. They were attending their classes online like the other students. But since August, a lot has changed. While the other students are attending the classes, the couple is holding on to their last hope for freedom in Kabul, in a Taliban-infested Afghanistan.
While Fatima has not stepped out of her home in weeks, Bashir has to face immense scrutiny every time he steps out. They are eager to come to India and finish their education but said that no one helped them, even when India started issuing special e-visas to Afghans. "JNU did not even bother to reply to my emails," said Bashir. "At first, when the Taliban was still approaching Kabul, we needed the JNU administration to specify that we are enrolled and they would let us come to campus. This letter would have been operative and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations would contact the embassy in Kabul and help us get a visa. But that did not happen," he added.
While the internet connectivity was not smooth a month ago either, it has deteriorated since. "The internet is not stable enough for us to attend classes. Moreover, with the threat of our freedom being taken away from us, it is difficult to concentrate on anything," said Bashir, who used to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the erstwhile Afghan government. He was also a human rights activist. "We are being screened at every corner by the militia. They are checking our ID cards and even our phones, to check our chats. This is a gross violation of privacy. While women do not dare step out, the men too are not allowed to wear western wear," he added as he spoke to us from his friend's house.
Bashir and Fatima are hopeful that the situation will improve and they will be able to travel to India and finish their education. They are also worried about how Afghanistan will tackle the next wave of COVID-19 with hardly any hospital left functional. "Many of the hospitals and clinics were being run by the aid funds from UN or the EU. That has stopped. Thus the hospitals are no more functional than before. The government hospitals too do not have staff as they have not been paid for a long time," he said and added that they are going flights to resume soon so that they can come to Delhi to finish their education.
While the couple seeks help to hold on to their freedom or the last straws of it that are left, their educational institution, JNU has not responded to the situation except a notice from the Registrar Dr Ravikesh on August 14, that said, "Some Afghan students of JNU have requested the JNU administration to facilitate their return to the campus." It further clarified their silence in the matter that is being criticised, "The university has remained closed as per the latest circular issued by the DDMA, Government of NCT, Delhi, this matter is currently being looked into."