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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Livelihood of kin lost back home, Afghan students seek govt aid to stay afloat, pay fee

The Finance Minister said he was hopeful that he would “prevail upon the Cabinet” for financial help to the students in terms of fee and food for some months till the situation in Afghanistan returns to normal and their families are in a position to send them money again.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: October 9, 2021 1:08:48 pm
afghan students india, punjab afghan studentsThe Afghan students with United Sikhs India director Gurpreet Singh and Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, in Chandigarh. Express

With their families in economic disarray back home after Taliban takeover, the students from Afghanistan pursuing different courses in educational institutions in Punjab and Chandigarh, are now seeking financial help to pay their academic fees and meet their living expenses.

From a girl whose grandmother lost an eye in an alleged Taliban attack and other family members in hiding, to another whose brother, an Afghan armyman, fled to Iran, scores of such Afghan students have been left to fend for themselves.

United Sikhs India director Gurpreet Singh earlier this week took up the issue with Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal after representatives of Afghan students approached him.

Gurpreet Singh said the Finance Minister, who was his junior in Doon School, assured all possible financial assistance by Punjab government to the Afghan students. “Manpreet Badal assured that he would try that state government takes care of the academic fee and living expenses of the students till things return to normalcy in their families. He also assured to take this up in Cabinet for approval,” said Gurpreet Singh.

Talking to The Indian Express Manpreet Badal confirmed that a delegation of Afghan students met him seeking financial help. “There are about 250 Afghan students enrolled in different educational institutes in Punjab. Their parents are not in a position to send money to them. Even banks are not operating in Afghanistan. I will take up this matter in next Cabinet meeting,” Manpreet said.

The Finance Minister said he was hopeful that he would “prevail upon the Cabinet” for financial help to the students in terms of fee and food for some months till the situation in Afghanistan returns to normal and their families are in a position to send them money again. “This (Providing such assistance) is part of our Punjabi culture and spirit,” Manpreet told The Indian Express.

Of the 250 Afghan students, Gurpreet Singh said, he received a list of 15 such students who urgently needed Rs 5000 each and the United Sikhs India has decided to provide money to them.

Referring to recent vandalism at the historic Gurdwara Dashmesh Pita Guru Gobind Singh Karte Parwan in Kabul, Gurpreet Singh added, “As we are taking care of the Afghan minority here, the Taliban should reciprocate the gesture and ensure security and safety of Sikhs. As of now, it is not clear whether it was Taliban or others who vandalized the gurdwara. But even if some others targeted the shrine, the Taliban government should ensure that such incidents that target minorities do not take place.”

One of the 15 students, 21-year-old Khawanin, who is pursuing BTech (Computer Science) at Shaheed Udham Singh Group of Institutions said, “The situation is really bad in Afghanistan. My family tells me that they don’t have money even to buy basic necessities like flour and bread. There are no jobs.” Hailing from a locality in Kabul, Khawanin said, “I am in urgent need of financial assistance. Back in Afghanistan, my 80-year-old father is not able to work and sole breadwinner for the family, my brother has also been rendered jobless.”

A girl student from Afghanistan studying in an educational institution in Punjab said, “With no financial help coming from home, the girls here are finding it tough to stay put at their PG accommodations.”

Gurpreet Singh said that he arranged for accommodation for three Afghan girl students, who were earlier living in a PG accommodation, at Kendri Singh Sabha gurdwara in Chandigarh.

The girl student, who is pursuing MBA and wished not to be named, added, “My uncles worked with Afghanistan army. Taliban came looking for them in our village. They attacked my grandmother with a knife. She was hit in the face and lost sight in one eye. My brother is also changing locations in Kabul to avoid being attacked by Taliban as he worked with an American company.”

Dost Mohammad Rahimi (25), who lost his father when he was six, is seeking financial help to study English to find a job and settle in India. He completed his education in civil engineering from Quest Group of Colleges, Jhanjeri. “I have four brothers living in Afghanistan. But, they cannot support me as they lost jobs,” said Rahimi.

Juma Ibrahimi, a BBA student at Shaheed Udham Singh Group of Institutions, said, “I am from Ghazni. My brother ran a grocery shop and used to send money to me. Now, the sales at shop have dropped drastically. My family has conveyed that they are not in a position to send any money now. They say there is no work or business. They say they are like living dead now.”

Khirudin, who is doing MBA from Doaba Group of Colleges, he as five brothers. “Four of them are into farming and not in a position to support me. The one who supported me financially was in Afghanistan army. After Taliban takeover, he has fled to Iran,” said Khirudin who lost his father to cancer last year.

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