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Pune: Students despair to connect relatives back in Kashmir

PUNE: "Baat hui (Could you talk)? This has become the most common question of hundreds of students from Kashmir staying in the city, whenever they meet anyone from their land. Rumours of unrest and various ways to establish contacts back home are the most common messages circulated by the students in various WhatsApp groups that have sprung up in the wake of the communication clampdown in Kashmir. "People are lining up in police stations in Kashmir to call up their children studying across the country, said a student, who could talk to his parents but for just a minute. Taha Rais Mir (20), who's pursuing a hotel management course in Lonavla, was diagnosed with kidney stones. Investigation revealed that he had just one functional kidney and the last call he had made home was to his parents informing his medical condition before the communication ban came into effect. He has now come to Pune to stay with his friends till the communication systems start. On Wednesday, he got a call from his mother, even if just for a minute. "She told me to stay with my friends till the situation became normal back home, Mir said. Ehsaan Bashir, a first year engineering student, reached Pune two weeks ago. "I used to call my mother two-three times a day. Since Sunday, I haven't talked to them, he said. Shahbaz Malik (21) tried calling everyone back home at least 50 times a day. "My parents are old and live alone. During earlier communication restrictions, the post-paid cellphone or landline services would work. But this time there is a blackout. If I cannot contact them by weekend, I will take the first flight home.

Owais Wani (25) has been staying in Pune for the past six years. "On Monday, there was a rumour that if you have a particular handset model and a sim card, you could contact a person back home with the gadget. I could send a text to my brother, who replied saying everything was fine. But since Wednesday, that too isn't working. He added that one has to be extremely cautious about the various rumours circulated on various WhatsApp groups.