After the Taliban captured Afghanistan on Sunday, 15th August, the future of students stuck in the country seems to be in the dark. Most of the Afghan students enrolled at Indian institutes had gone back to their country owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and were intending to return to India once the situation limps back to normal. However, amid the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, the students have been requesting the Indian institutes to help them get the visa. Those studying in India are concerned about the well-being of their family members back home.
In this hour of crisis, various Indian institutes are lending a helping hand to get such students back on campuses so that they do not have an uncertain future. The first one to come forward is the IIT Bombay that has allowed the return of Afghan students and asked them to stay in campus hostels, The Indian Express reported.
"During the current, the institute had offered the master's program to some Afghan students under scholarships from ICCR. Due to the pandemic situation, they were attending their classes from home. However, due to sudden unrest in their country, they wanted to flee from there and join back their hostels here in India," Subhasis Chaudhuri, director, IIT Bombay, said.
"Although their request has been approved as a special case, we are not sure how late it is for them to pursue their dreams. We hope that they are all safe and can join us soon," the director added.
IIT Is Taking Efforts To Facilitate Issuing Visa
The ICCR offers scholarships to over 2000 Afghan students pursuing studies in India. It is now facilitating the issuance of visas to the students in coordination with the Indian embassy in Kabul. On the other hand, 144 international students are enrolled at IIT Roorkee, out of which 58 belong to Afghanistan. Among them, 31 are studying virtually from their country, whereas seven are currently in India. Eleven Afghan students have been enrolled this year for MTech and PhD programmes.
"IIT Roorkee is issuing applications to all such students to facilitate their return process as soon as possible," Paramasivan Arumugam, Dean of International Relations, IIT Roorkee, told The Indian Express.
"The institute is sending out lists of such students to ICCR as they are enrolled under Study in India scheme. We are making extra efforts to get rapid visa approvals and help them return to India without any hassle. Students are regularly enquiring about family accommodation as they are concerned about their safety if and when they join back institutes in India," Arumugam added.
A helpline number has also been launched by IIT Delhi for Afghan students. They can contact the institute at +91-011 26591713, +91-9811091942 or via email at email@example.com. The applications will also be processed under the international PhD Fellowship Programme (IPFP) on a rolling basis in order to get admission as per their convenience. IIT Delhi comprises 16 Afghani students in MTech and PhD courses, out of the total 98 international students.
Naveen Garg, dean of alumni affairs and international programmes, IIT Delhi, said, "Due to the pandemic, only one Afghan student is on the campus and the rest are in Afghanistan. We are keeping in touch with these students and receiving various calls regarding the information on the visa procedure and their possible return. As the Indian Embassy is closed in Kabul, we are unsure how long will it take to get these students back to campus."
Students Concerned About Family
Wazhmia Shekib, a 24-year-old student from Afghanistan's Bamyan recently submitted her PhD application at Lovely Professional University (LPU), Jalandhar. After completing her MA in Political Science, Shekib is on the university campus in India but is worried about her family of 7 members in Kabul.
"Three Talibani men entered our house in Kabul saying that they had inputs about the presence of weapons. They harassed my family till 3 am and later left after finding nothing. I have two younger siblings who recently got admission in India but have not received their student visas yet," Shekib told The Indian Express.
While she talks to her family on a regular basis, the messages, she said, are not something very cheerful. "Recently, my father told me that he may not be able to fulfil her financial needs as of now and asked me to manage with whatever money I have. My mother asked me to keep a check on my brothers' visas. She asked me to stay in India and not to return to Afghanistan. With my family at the war zone, how will I ever be at ease?" she questions.
Private Universities Lend Helping Hand
The Lovely Professional University (LPU) is making equal efforts to help the Afghani students in need among the private universities. A total of 170 Afghanis are enrolled in the university.
"We have a 24X7 international affairs office to provide emotional support to the students who are either back home or on campus. They fear for their families' safety. We have also extended the deadline for fee submission who intend to enrol this year. We will also introduce relaxations in exams keeping in view the current scenario," Aman Mittal, associated director of the university said while speaking to The Indian Express.
Despite trying their best, Mittal said the path is not easy as the airport is not functioning correctly and most of the international borders to Afghanistan are closed. "All we can do is hope and pray. The psychological trauma of the unrest will keep haunting them for a long period," he said.