Studying at Lovely Professional University in Punjab
Sri Lankan students all over India want to return
Concerns raised over students stuck in Punjab university
Desperate appeal made as Indian student contracts COVID-19
As India this week extended a nationwide curfew till May 3, Sri Lankan students stranded all over India have appealed to the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to take them back home.
A group of over 100 Sri Lankan students stranded at the Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Punjab are among those who have made a desperate appeal to the Sri Lankan authorities.
LPU is a private university situated in Phagwara, Punjab and is also one of India’s largest universities.
Students from India, other South Asian countries and Africa are following academic activities at the university.
However, with the spread of the Coronavirus the university has suspended academic activities and requested students at the hostel to return home.
A group of students from Bhutan were among the last to leave this week but 104 students from Sri Lanka and a few from Africa are among the few who still remain in the hostel and in rented rooms outside.
The safety of the students in the campus is now at risk after a female student had this week tested positive for the Coronavirus.
The student was identified as a Bachelor of Physiotherapy student from West Mumbai.
Indian media reports stated that Health officials and the Police have launched a large-scale drive to trace the people who came in contact with the patient.
Deputy Commissioner Deepti Uppal told the Indian media that the Police have sealed the LPU campus and no one will be allowed to move out till the medical examination is completed.
On Monday the university said that as per the latest Government report, all samples, including those of doctors, mess workers and students who were in contact with the girl student of LPU have tested negative for the virus.
With nowhere to go and fearing for their lives, the Sri Lankans have made an urgent appeal to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to use his office to secure their return to Sri Lanka.
Tharaka Rupasinghe, President of the Sri Lanka student’s association of the university, told the Daily Mirror that they had sent a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appealing for steps to be taken to bring them back home.
He said that he has also been in touch with the Indian High Commission in New Delhi seeking assistance.
Rupasinghe said that they have been advised by the Sri Lankan High Commission to be patient, at least for a few more days.
However, he said that the more they wait the chances of them contracting the virus increase.
“After the girl in the campus contracted the virus all the students are living in fear. We really don’t know how she got it as the campus had been closed and no one was allowed out or in. So the fact that she contracted the virus while being in campus is a concern for all of us,” he said.
He said that the university authorities have also written to the Sri Lankan authorities urging them to take us back.
Sachin Hassim, a student of the same university said that their parents back home are very concerned about their safety and are doing all they can to get them back.
He told the Daily Mirror that with no date as to when the universities will reopen the students are desperate to return home.
Hassim also said that the canteen at the university has also been closed and food is being provided from the university mess.
However, the students have been told that they need to pay extra for the food and with banks closed obtaining money has become an issue.
“Our parents will send us the money, but we have no way of getting it from the bank. We really don’t know what to do and how to continue to survive,” he said.
Hassim wrote the letter on behalf of the students to President Rajapaksa stating that after understanding the current steps taken by the GoSL to curb the spread of Covid- 19, as students they feel more safer to be in Sri Lanka.
He said all the students are also in agreement to cooporate and comply with any quarantine and security steps enforced by the authorities on arrival in Sri Lanka.
Narmada Perera, a female student at the LPU told the Daily Mirror that the girls are more concerned about their safety, especially since a female Indian student in the girl’s hostel contracted the virus.
She also said that they do not consume food from the university mess as they have concerns about where the raw items come from.
Instead, she said that some of them purchase the goods from vendors who visit the university and cook for themselves.
“We are not really allowed to cook in our rooms, but we use what we have to prepare our own meals because we actually fear to eat from the university mess,” she said.
Perera said that while their meals are limited they are concerned about some Sri Lankan students who are staying outside the university premises as they may not have anything reaching them.
She said that with their money in hand also now running out they feel that the time is also running out fast.
When contacted, Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha told the Daily Mirror that the matter has been given priority. “For the moment the Acting High Commissioner in New Delhi is in close communication with the students and the university authorities,” he said.