Travel Ban Tough for Indian International Students

International student visa holders Jaspreeet Singh, Avneet Sidhu, Varinder SIngh and Harmanpreet SIngh with Councillor John Arkan in Woolgoolga.

 

A MOVE by the Federal Government and questioned by the Australian Human Rights Commission, is adding to the pressure on Indian international students.

The travel ban on India, criminalises Australians returning home from the country under the Biosecurity Act.

Australia is the only country in the world to criminalise its own citizens for returning home from India and also the only country globally to ban travel from India.

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Watching in horror from Woolgoolga as the pandemic wreaks havoc on their homeland has been difficult for international students Avneet Sidhu, Harmanpreet Singh and Jaspreet Singh.

Avneet Sidhu has not met her family for two years.

She said if something happens to them and she has to return to India, she is faced with being unable to return to her studies and five years jail time.

“It is really difficult for us.

“My parents aren’t able to visit and I can’t see them too.

“We are stuck,” Ms Sidhu said.

“Thank God they are not affected currently by COVID.”

Ms Sidhu was planning to travel to India this year but has been unable to.

Harmanpreet Singh also misses his family and had plans to visit this year.

“We are all following the rules the Australian Government makes but we are worried about our family.

“One person in my family’s village has COVID-19,” he said.

As the country struggles to vaccinate its population Mr Singh expressed concerns about reports from the Indian media that the wrong vaccines have been administered.

“I don’t have faith in the vaccine in India,” he told News Of The Area.

Jaspreet SIngh said he thinks the travel ban is good in terms of safety but the impact on other international students is tough.

“I have two friends who have lost their fathers and it is so hard for them as international students.

“One of my friend’s fathers was a doctor himself.

“The students are worried about returning to India because they can leave from here but are not allowed to come back,” he said.

“One of my friends is stuck there having returned to India in March and now is unable to complete his studies here but has paid the international student fees.

“He also cannot do anything in India as well because all the unis have closed.”

Mr Singh said there are still many areas of concern in India as COVID-19 ravages the country.

“Currently there are many things going on side by side with the pandemic.

“The farmers are still protesting and are still on strike but Prime Minister Modi is ignoring the situation.

“No action has been taken and the farmers are dying and many businessmen and labourers have been affected too,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi has been widely criticized for allowing religious festivals and political rallies to continue prior to the latest outbreak.

Meanwhile back in Australia, Scott Morrison is under fire for the travel ban by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

In a statement released by the commission it raised “serious human rights concerns”.

It reads, ‘The Commission supports the continuation of aid to the Indian Government as it copes with the current COVID-19 crisis, but the Commission holds deep concerns about these extraordinary new restrictions on Australians returning to Australia from India.’

There are approximately nine thousand Australians in India currently registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wanting to return home.

 

By Sandra MOON

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