Ukraine Returned Kashmiri Students Stare At Uncertain Future

Ukraine returned Kashmiri students with LG Manoj Sinha | File Photo

Srinagar- Five months since Russia launched the air and ground assault on Ukraine to cleanse it of “Neo-Nazis”, uncertainty hangs over the future of over 150 Kashmiri students, who were forced to flee Ukraine’s dead cities in March, jettisoning their studies since.

Shahid Habib is one of the students who left the war-torn country with a hope that the conflict won’t last long. However, back home Habib and other students are increasingly disenchanted with the authorities’ delay in accommodating them in Indian medical Universities and securing their future.

A second year student currently admitted at Kharkiv National Medical University, Habib said that he has no hopes left for his career.

His voice is terrible and chaotic. He describes the intensity of losing a career in simple auditory terms. Sometimes the uncertainty is quiet but mostly it’s loud, he says. As the volume of an uncertain future increases for Habib, so does the chaos, misery, and fear.

Since being safely evacuated to their homes, most Kashmiri students admitted in Ukrainian universities are attending online classes.

“Most of our university has been destroyed. The University administration has provided us two options for transferring our degree to outside Ukraine. One is in Kazakhstan and the other is Georgia. However, the transfer window has already closed in May. Since then, I’ve been attending online classes. And despite repeated requests, the central Government hasn’t done anything to accommodate us in Indian universities,” Habib told Kashmir Observer.

Every year, a limited number of seats in medical Universities of Kazakhstan, Romania, Turkey and Moldova are reserved for students who are on a transfer, Habib said, however it’s impossible to accommodate more than 20,000 Indian students at once. “So, transfer from Ukrainian universities to other foreign universities is not an option for us,” he added.

He further said that despite promises from the National Medical Commision (NMC) of accommodating Ukraine returned students in Country’s medical universities, nothing has been done so far. “The Indian government evacuated the students and promised them a secure future in India but the central government’s and NMC’s delay in making a decision displays a lack of empathy and ignorance for our plight,” says Habib, while expressing anguish.

For over three decades, Ukraine has been a popular destination for Kashmiri students pursuing medical courses. About 30 Ukrainian medical colleges offer courses at a fraction of the fees charged by private colleges in India. The six-year course costs about US$30,000 compared to three times the cost in India.

Owais, a 1st year medical student of Kharkiv National Medical University, said that his university has been conducting online classes since March, and also conducted online exams.

“We’ve vacation till September. I’ve been waiting for the Government’s decision on our future, however despite a lapse of more than four months, the Government and NMC hasn’t said anything. The uncertainty over the government’s decision is causing a lot of worry. We are waiting for the government’s decision. If NMC doesn’t confirm anything by September, then I’ll have to leave my studies and find a new option,” Owais told Kashmir Observer.

Owais further said that both state and central Government are yet to issue any specific instructions regarding their studies but a couple of states have provided practical and other education-related assistance in government colleges. “We want to be accommodated in a government college. The J&K government is not helping as compared to the other states,” he said.

All eyes are now on the Supreme Court of India, which directed the NMC in May to take appropriate action for the future education of the returnees within two months. However, NMC has yet to announce anything.

Echoing similar views, Zaffar Malik, a 4th year student in Odessa National Medical University says that the government is not listening to us, it has been over five months. What will happen next?

“I am unable to understand anything. Medical education cannot be done online. I’m a 4th year student and at this point I cannot leave my education. I’ve reached a point where if the government fails to accommodate me in any Indian university, then I’ll have to go back to the war torn Ukraine,” Malik said.

He also claimed that some Kashmiri students have even left their courses in Ukraine.

Notably, the students have also said that it is only because they don’t get admission in India that they go abroad to study.

“We are not begging, we are victims of a vicious war. If the government is not able to help, then they should’ve never shown us a false dream,” Habib said.

As per the existing law in India, medical graduates are supposed to complete a course at their university, else their academic qualifications won’t be recognised in India.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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