Two months after evacuation, horrifying scenes of Wuhan still haunt Banihal youth

Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked to Banihal youth Nizamur Rehman, who returned from Wuhan recently, on Saturday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked to Banihal youth Nizamur Rehman, who returned from Wuhan recently, on Saturday.

PM interacts with student, stresses for generating awareness

*Says will go back to fulfil dream of parents to become doc

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Mar 28: Though nearly two months have lapsed since his evacuation along with several other students from Wuhan, the epicentre of outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in neighbouring country China, the horrifying scenes are still haunting Nizamur Rehman, a resident of Kaskoot area of Banihal tehsil of Ramban district. However, the brave youth is still eager to go back to fulfil the dream of his parents to become a doctor and serve the society.

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Nizamur Rehman was among 650 Indians including 60 students from Kashmir valley, who were evacuated in two Air India flights on January 31 and February 1, 2020 respectively after Wuhan was completely engulfed by Coronavirus.
He along with 59 other students from the Kashmir valley was pursuing MBBS in Hubei University of Medicine located in Shiyan city of China. This University, which was founded in 1965, was originally known as Wuhan Medical College.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called Nizamur Rehman on telephone from his official residence at New Delhi and asked him to share his experience from China to the quarantine centre in India.
“As a medical student you must have realized how dangerous this virus is”, said the Prime Minister and sought to know how he (Rehman) and others spent days in Wuhan amid the spread of Coronavirus.
Rehman replied, “yes, it is a very dangerous virus. We were very tense in Wuhan. But we thank Indian Government for helping us and bringing us back to the country”.
When asked by the Prime Minister whether he faced any difficulty in quarantine centre, he further said, “we were provided with every facility including indoor games. We were 60 students from Kashmir and nobody faced any sort of difficulty”.
Pointing towards positive cases of Coronavirus in Kashmir valley, Prime Minister asked Nizamur Rehman and other students to spread awareness among the common masses about the importance of lockdown and maintaining social distancing.
“As youngsters you should spread widespread awareness and advise the people to stay indoors”, Prime Minister said. He was assured by Rehman that they will educate the masses.
Meanwhile, talking exclusively with EXCELSIOR on telephone from Kaskoot, Nizamur Rehman recollected the scenes of chaos and despair, which were emerging daily from Hubei province of China when he along with other students was staying in the hostels of Hubei University of Medicine.
According to him, the outbreak of Coronavirus disease was first identified in Wuhan in December 2019 and thereafter it started engulfing whole of Hubei province. “In the middle of January the academic activities in Hubei University of Medicine were suspended in view of fast spreading of Coronavirus disease and we were told to stay indoors in our respective hostels”, he recalled.
“We were also advised to use masks and sanitizers frequently so as to protect ourselves from getting infected by Coronavirus. Within days there was worst impact in whole of the Hubei province with Coronavirus claiming large number of lives every day and rendering hundreds of people infected”.
Taking deep breath, Nizamur Rehman further said, “the students putting up in hostels started receiving calls from their parents to leave the area immediately in order to protect their lives but venturing out without the permission or support of the Chinese authorities was nothing less than giving open invitation to the death”.
“The movement of siren blowing vehicles and repeated announcements from the authorities were only increasing hopelessness among us. At one point of time the students had started gathering an impression that they would not be able to see their families anymore”, he further recalled.
However, he thanked the Government of India, which while sensing the gravity of the situation pressed two Air India flights into service to evacuate nearly 650 Indians out of Wuhan. “We heaved sigh of relief when we were told by the Indian Embassy officials that Government of India has arranged flights for our evacuation and we should be ready with our luggage”, the Banihal youth said.
After our evacuation from Wuhan on February 1, 2020 we were quarantined in New Delhi for several days and then allowed to proceed towards our respective places. “Since then I am putting up in my native place Kaskoot and trying to focus on my studies as forgetting horrifying scenes of Wuhan is not an easy task”, Nizamur Rehman said.
In response to a question, Nizamur Rehman said, “I took admission in Hubei University of Medicine in the year 2018 for pursuing MBBS and have completed only two years of studies so far”, adding “although it is difficult to forget the horrendous scenes of Wuhan but in order to fulfil the dream of my parents I will go back and complete MBBS. But all depends upon how fast the Chinese Government opens Wuhan area for the foreigners and resumes academic and other activities in the Universities and Colleges”.
Nizamur Rehman’s brother is preparing for National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test (NEET), which in view of hardships faced by the parents and students due to COVID-19 epidemic, has been postponed by the Government of India. Their father is working in a private company and mother is a house-wife. “We both want to fulfil the dreams of our parents come what may”, Rehman said with confidence.
Nizamur Rehman has appealed to the people not to take Coronavirus pandemic casually and take utmost precautions as suggested by the Government of India. “We have seen the devastation caused by COVID-19 in Wuhan as such appeal to the people of this country to remain indoors till the situation improves”, he said while talking to EXCELSIOR.
“Only social distancing and taking utmost precautions as suggested by the Health authorities can save all of us from this disease. I hope whole world will come out of this grave problem in the shortest possible time and we will be able to lead a normal life”, he further said.

DC expresses ignorance about youth having foreign travel history
Deputy Commissioner Ramban Nazim Zai Khan today expressed ignorance about a Banihal youth, who recently came from Hubei University of Medicine in China and with whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi had telephonic conversation from his official residence in Union Capital.
“I have also heard that Prime Minister has interacted with a Banihal youth but I am not aware of his name and contact number”, the Deputy Commissioner said when contacted by EXCELSIOR on his official telephone.
I think you want to conduct the interview of the youth, he said, adding “for that you should pay visit to his native place”. When his attention was drawn towards the restrictions imposed on the movement of people in view of Coronavirus, the Deputy Commissioner said, “you are media person and can easily travel from Jammu up to Banihal without any obstruction”.
When Deputy Commissioner was requested to provide number of Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Banihal, he said, “at such a crucial time you are seeking number of my officer…..I am not your telephone operator”.
However, SDM Banihal Zaheer Abbas, when contacted, shared the number of youth without any hesitation.
The Deputy Commissioner expressed ignorance about Banihal youth at a time when there are instructions from the Government of India about keeping the details of the persons who have foreign travel history.