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‘Want to stay in India’: Afghan students appeal PM Modi to extend visa, give them citizenship, work permit

Sitting in their hostel at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), twenty five students from Afghanistan who have successfully completed their degree programmes are tensed about their future following the Taliban takeover. Some of the students have not spoken to their families for more than a week and are worried about their safety and whereabouts.  “Allah can only save them. I did not have a word with my family members for weeks,” said one of the students. 

IndiaTV spoke with three students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to know the conditions of their family members back home in the war-ravaged Afghanistan; their career and future. 

Shafiq Sultan, 35, did not have a word with family members for the past two weeks. “I am frightened and tensed… don’t know if would meet my family members again or not,” Shafiq said. The Taliban militias took control of Maidan Wardak on Sunday (August 15), since then Shafiq is concerned about his family members. 

“I have completed my MA in International Relations and Area Studies in July and was preparing to go back home. But, all ended within a span of a week, as Kabul fell to Taliban,” the student said. 

Shafiq came to India in 2019, leaving his well-paying government job to get a postgraduate degree for a better career prospect. “Now, I don’t have future, career, money, no country. Where will I go?” he said as his voice choked.

Shafiq is now willing to stay in India, and is appealing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend their student visa, allow them work permit, and grant them citizenship, like the country did with the Bangladeshi refugees during the 1971 India-Pakistan war. “If we can’t get work permit now, at least the government can extend the scholarship programme, so that we can at least live with dignity. How will we survive? Please don’t leave us, forget us,” the Afghan student appealed to the government.

Jalaluddin Akbar is just 25, but his dreams appear shattered with the Taliban uprising in Afghanistan. “Though I passed MA in Development and Labour studies with flying marks, but I am concerned about my career now. I am now a refugee, where will I get a job?”  Jalaluddin said. 

Jalaluddin appealed the Indian government to grant Afghan students staying in India work permits, and citizenship status. “At present, no companies in India allow foreigners to work. We will appeal to the prime minister to please give Afghans a work permit in India, so that we can live in this country with respect,”  he said. 

Also Read : JNU releases notification on International students’ visa extension, details here

Jalaluddin is trying to relocate his family back in Afghanistan to India. “My family is trying to apply for an “e-Emergency X-Misc Visa” which will be valid for six months.” 

He also acknowledged India’s role in the development of his country, but in a deep sigh said, “All these development projects- hospitals, schools, dams will now be bulldozed by Taliban as they don’t want the good of people.” Jalaluddin said. 

Another student Md. Habi said that they approached JNU to extend their visa, but did not get any positive reply from the varsity. “The registrar assured us to look into the matter. If our visas are not extended, where will we go?” the student said. Habi who has completed his MA in Sociology is now thinking to take Ph.D. and fellowship programs to continue his study in India.  

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