For the last two weeks, Gul*, an Afghan student, doing a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Kerala, has been knocking on the doors of the Indian embassy in Tehran, Iran, to get an E-visa to enter India to pursue his studies and join his wife and children, who are living in Kerala.
However, officials in the embassy, he claimed, have been sending him back each time without even listening to his pleas and refusing to process the E-visa. He managed to get a Visa from the Iran government for a short duration.
“I was hopeful that this would pave the way for me to return to India, where I have done all my academic education over the last 10 years,” he told The Hindu over phone from Tehran.
Mr. Gul said that he managed to get the visa from Iran after a lot of struggle and there is a threat to his life from the Taliban in Afghanistan. It was just before the Taliban took over the regime, he came to Afghanistan to collect details for his research work. The Indian visa was valid upto August 2021, he said.
However, the Indian government declared all the Visa as Invalid and requested to apply for E-Visa after the embassy in Afghanistan was closed down. But months after applying, he has not received any response from the Indian government.
Mr. Gul, who went into hiding in Afghanistan, after the Taliban raided his house for information is facing a constant threat to his life. He said that getting an E-visa is the last ray of hope for him to rejoin his family.
“Returning to Afghanistan is out of the question. My hopes are pinned on India, a country known for its humanitarian approach”, he said, appealing to the government to allow E-Visa to him and many others, who are waiting to return to India.
He said his family was managing to live in Kerala on the money he has been sending to them after borrowing from his friends and relatives.
His wife Zam*, who is doing PhD in physics at the University of Kerala and staying with her three young children in a rented house, has written to the university and the government seeking help for the safe return of her husband. However, there has been no response yet and all her pleas have fallen on deaf ears, she rued.
Life has turned upside down with the outbreak of COVID-19. Amid the financial problems, it has become very difficult to take care of children and pursue studies”, she said.
The government should help the Afghan students who have nothing to do with the political situation in their homeland and help their families who are awaiting their safe return to India, she pleaded.
*Names changed to protect the privacy of the people.