Hundreds of Afghan college students whose student visas have expired gathered in New Delhi on Wednesday to protest and request the Indian government to grant visa extensions and permit them to resume their studies.
India has generously provided scholarships to numerous international students, including those from Afghanistan, enabling them to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
This initiative has opened doors to quality education for thousands, fostering academic growth and strengthening global connections.
Following the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan in August 2021, numerous Afghan students in India expressed reluctance to return home. They cited concerns over potential reprisals and the scarcity of opportunities amidst the country’s economic turmoil.
The students’ apprehensions centred on the uncertain situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban returned. “The Indian government has not released scholarships for the current academic session (which started in July), and after the expiry of our visa, we are living under constant fear of police arrest,” Stated Arsalan Qayumi, representing the Afghanistan Students’ Association, organized the protest in New Delhi as cited by Reuters.
“The students are neither getting scholarships nor permission to work in India,” he added.
Kumar Tuhin, Director-General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), a unit under the Ministry of External Affairs, emphasized the government’s commitment to addressing the challenges faced by Afghan students and acknowledging their difficulties.
“We understand that Afghan students are facing problems, and the government is serious about addressing their concerns,” Kumar Tuhin said.
“No student will be compelled to leave the country against their wishes,” assured Kumar Tuhin, Director-General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
He also mentioned that the External Affairs Ministry will decide on scholarship matters soon. ICCR has granted study grants to nearly 1,000 Afghan nationals for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in India.
Over the past two years, Afghan students encountered difficulties accessing their grants, which included monthly stipends ranging from 25,000 to 28,500 rupees, subsidized tuition fees, and travel support. Consequently, some students had to abandon their studies or relocate to different countries.
Parwana Hussaini, who arrived in India in 2016 for higher education, expressed her desire to continue her studies in India but highlighted that the government had not disbursed their stipends, urging her to stay and pursue her higher education, Reuters reported.