“We are scared to death”: Kashmiri students quarantined in Rajasthan

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Kashmiri students, who returned from Iran in early March, in Jaisalmer have called on the administration to facilitate their return to home. The students said that they had completed quarantine days ago and had tested negative for the virus multiple times yet they aren’t allowed home.

“The first quarantine we completed in Iran, then we completed another here in Jaisalmer,” a fourth year MBBS student told The Kashmir Walla. “Now it has been over twenty days and we have not been allowed to go home.”

Adding that a few students were having panic attacks and other have developed mental health issues, a second year MBBS student said, “We request the administration to facilitate our return home. It’s a hell here.”

The group consists of a hundred students, including sixty girls, are at the facility since 14 March. “We were assured a flight to our respective states (UT) by the end of fourteen day quarantine but nothing as such has happened,” another student from the group told The Kashmir Walla. “We were tested multiple times and have found to be negative.”

The students further added that they were shifted to a new location yesterday, to which they did not agree. “The authorities threatened us that they can resort to force. Us being girls were scared and were shifted to the new facility,” a student said. “This new facility is below regular health regulations. Mosquitos everywhere, unbearable head with minimal to none cooling solutions.”

The facilities, students say, are really bad at the new accommodation. “The bathroom is so dirty and pipelines and sinks are blocked,” a student from the group alleged. “The mugs that we use in toilets are there for bathing as well.”

Students also complained about the food being undercooked which has led to sickening stomachs. “We are eating in used-plates which were once used by the military personnel; that is so not unacceptable or hygienic.”

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An inside view of the new accomodation provided to the students who completed quarantine. Photograph by a student for The Kashmir Walla

A parent of one of the students, who does not wish to be named, expressed concern and anger over the government’s apathy. “This is purely cruel to have our children suffer like this. Government should facilitate their return as soon as possible,” the parent said.

“We share a common hallway of the washrooms with boys and are very uncomfortable when we go and leave the washrooms because of direct contact with boys,” a female student said. “Given our Kashmiri culture, we are not comfortable with this at all.”

That’s not it, they say: “We have almost zero mobile network here. Our doors are closed from the outside with horrible internet and calling connectivity.”

The students, who badly want an exit from the facility say, “We are scared as we think of living here and it is taking a toll on our mental health. We appeal the authorities to help us get home because we have tested negative for the COVID-19 several times. We, as Kashmiris, in the middle of nowhere, are locked from the outside as we suffer inside in scorching heat. We are scared to death and wondering if anyone is there to help us get home.”

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