Monday, December 5, 2022

All possible help and assistance shall be provided to Indian Students stranded in Bangladesh: Centre tell Delhi HC

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Centre informed Delhi HC on Friday that since the outbreak of COVID-19 Government of India has taken proactive steps to ensure safety, welfare and well being of the Indian Nationals abroad as well as its people in India. A high level Group of Ministers has been informed to review the current status and actions for prevention and management of COVID-19 and appropriate advisories are being issued from time to time.

Centre’s reply came on a PIL filed by Gaurav Kumar Bansal seeking directions to safeguard Indian Students stranded in Bangladesh amid the Coronavirus crisis.

Petitioner has sought for a direction to the Union of India to take steps for ensuring safety of Indian Students in Bangladesh and also for appointment of a nodal officer in the Indian Embassy and to make available, the contact and email addresses of the nodal officers so that the Indian Citizens could contact and seek help from nodal officers.

Following, which a detailed status report presented before the Court by the Centre. It its status report Centre stated, A COVID-19 cell has been formed to ensure greater access and precision of information. Sub-groups dealing with different regions of the world has also been created. Missions/Posts abroad have been advised to set up dedicated helpline numbers and given wide publicity to the same to assist stranded Indians. A list of nodal officers of Missions/Posts has been annexed with the affidavit. Nodal officers have been identified and designated at each Mission/Post to provide assistance to Indian nationals abroad and a 24 x 7 helpline number and an email have been made functional for the said purpose and the helpline numbers and email IDs have been widely publicized through social networking sites, official government websites so that Indians abroad get information regarding the same.

It is further stated, that a large number of Indian students are studying abroad and the missions are in constant touch with their Universities/educational institutions for rendering assistance to those students. Indian nationals and communities are being mobilized to help fellow Indian in distress in their country and wherever possible, the Missions are providing food, accommodation etc to stranded Indian citizens.

With regard to the steps taken by the Mission in Bangladesh, it is stated, that a 24 x 7 helpline was established on 15.03.2020 to address all queries of Indian citizens and Indian community and regular information is being shared through website and social media platforms of the Mission and the four Assistant High Commissions in Bangladesh and timely information regarding various travel advisories are being issued to the student’s community through social platforms on daily basis.

It is stated, that since the educational institutions were closed in Bangladesh, all local Bangladeshi students have left for their homes and only foreign students including Indian students remained back and the High Commission has contacted the concerned authorities in the colleges to keep the canteens/mess running and make available any resources within their capacity to ensure the well being of Indian students and all authorities have responded positively and confirmed that all means of assistance, cooperation and support shall be provided for the well being of Indian students.

It is stated, that there are 114 medical colleges in Bangladesh and around 6000 Indian students study in these colleges and approximately 500 Indian students have stayed back in Bangladesh. It is stated that since most of the medical colleges are attached to hospitals. In case of any emergency these hospitals are best equipped to deal with the situation. With regard to sanitizers, it is stated that the same are available with the colleges and in case of any short supply they are available in the market. The colleges in Bangladesh are trying to provide basic facilities to all the students who are in the hostels. However, where any Indian student reaches out to the High Commission, they are being counselled and provided necessary help. It is further stated that in the present lockdown situation, it is not possible for the Ministry to organise any evacuation of Indian Nationals from Bangladesh or any other country, however all possible help and assistance is being provided to all Indian nationals.

Mr. Jasmeet Singh Standing Counsel Central Government submits, that all possible help and assistance shall be provided to all Indian citizens and particularly Indian students in Bangladesh to ensure their well- being.

Delhi HC Division Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva and Justice Navin Chawla said, “In view of the affidavit and the status report filed by the respondent/Union of India, we are of the view that no further orders are called for in this petition. The petition is accordingly disposed of. However, liberty is granted to the petitioner to approach this Court again in case the need so arises in the future.”

-India Legal Bureau

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