Coronavirus: 300 Kashmiri students await evacuation in Iran

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SRINAGAR — More than 300 Kashmiri students studying in Iran have been left stranded as New Delhi has cancelled all flights to and from Tehran following the outbreak of Coronavirus, a report by Kashmir Monitor said.

The novel Coronavirus outbreak, which was first reported from Wuhan, has now spread to various countries including Iran with over 2,600 deaths reported from China alone while nearly a million have been infected.

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For the last two weeks, all the educational institutions are shut in Iran. More than 300 Kashmiri students are confined to their hostels as they allege that no effort has been made for their evacuation.

Suhaib Maqbool, a Kashmiri student pursuing MBBS at Tehran University, said authorities have told them to go back to their respective countries. “We are living in constant fear. There are around 150 Kashmiri students at our university. We are running out of stocks,” he said.

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Parents of Kashmiri students are worried about their children as flights have been cancelled by the authorities.

Abdul Rashid Parray, whose son is pursuing an MBBS at Tehran University, said they are worried about the safety of their children. “All the flights from Iran were cancelled on Wednesday and the students are stuck there. The government should make efforts to bring the stranded students back safely,” he said.

Waking up to the crisis, the Indian embassy in Tehran has issued an advisory for Indian nationals residing in Iran, asking them to maintain proper hygiene.

“The embassy is in touch with the local authorities in Iran and all Indians residing in Iran. All Indians are requested to observe necessary hygiene including wearing a mask and avoiding going to crowded places, and public gatherings,” the embassy said.

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Besides, the embassy has also started an emergency helpline for Indian nationals based in Iran. “Those who wish to enquire further can contact us at indiahelplinetehran@gmail.com or +98-9128109115,” the embassy said.

Srinagar district administration has also set up a helpline for the students residing in Iran.

“Indian students in Tehran may contact the embassy helpline. Given the large number of requests and emails, our helpline +919419028251 (Srinagar/Kashmir) will be functional 24×7 for any assistance. Thankful to @MEAIndia for the prompt response,” tweeted Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, District Commissioner, Srinagar.

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