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Cash-strapped Kashmiri students struggle in Mumbai

MUMBAI: Cut off from their homes for over a week, Kashmiri students in the city are facing a cash crunch. Though they carry ATM cards issued to them by the Jammu & Kashmir Bank--they don't have accounts with any other bank-they cannot withdraw money as the cards have been deactivated. They still face trouble in reaching out to parents and other relatives in Kashmir due to the lockdown. "I have no money and I cannot reach out to my parents in Kulgam as the valley is cut off. My parents or relatives will have to walk several kilometres to make a call from a police station and they are not taking the risk to walk such a long distance to make a call," said Amir Majeed Malik, a second year Bio-Medical Engineering student at VIT, Matunga. Mir Umar, a Kupwara resident and a B Pharma student at a Colaba institute, tried to book a train ticket to Jammu, but the transaction failed because his ATM card is "closed".

Mumbadevi MLA Amin Patel, along with activists M A Khalid, Salim Alware and Umar Chervattam visited around a dozen Kashmiri students at the Jaffer Suleiman Hostel at Wadi Bunder-there are around 15 Kashmiri students at the hostel--on Tuesday. "We will soon take a delegation to the Maharashtra governor and request him to contact his counterpart in Kashmir and direct the J&K Bank to activate the ATM cards," said Patel. Many who had job offers abroad are stuck in the city. Shahid Ahmed Lone from Shopian came to the city 20 days ago to give interviews for the job of a coffee maker at a restaurant in Saudi Arabia. He was selected and even got a visa. He had given Rs 50,000 to a sub-agent in Kashmir who was supposed to transfer money to the recruitment agent in Mahim. But the sub-agent has not transferred the money yet. "I have my visa and tickets, but cannot go unless the agent is paid his fees as my passport is with him," rued Lone.