Visa for Kashmiri students
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Kashmiri students willing to study medicine in Bangladesh and initially kept on the tenterhooks over entering the country have finally started getting student visas.

Nearly 350 of these students have been hanging around for more than a month in Kolkata, Guwahati and Agartala after been denied visas from the Bangladesh high commission in Delhi, which deals with visa seekers in north India.

But one consultant sending medical students to Bangladesh from Kashmir confirmed the visas were now been given.

“I was in Guwahati and the Bangladesh assistant high commission there has given visas to half the Kashmiri medical students who applied for it,” said Mohammed Suhail working for one of the educational consultancies.

“The rest will get visas in a day or two,” he added.

The number of Kashmiris going to Bangladesh for medical education has risen to around 600 a year since the last decade.

Cheaper fees and staying cost and difficulty in studying elsewhere in India is believed to be responsible for the choice.

Visas to Bangladesh were never a problem until this year when applicants were suddenly asked to produce equivalent certificates.

These students applied in the Bangladesh deputy high commission in Kolkata and the assistant high commission in Guwahati and even Agartala but did not get student visas needed to stay and study in Bangladesh for more than 45 days.

“The Bangladesh diplomats were giving visas to students travelling to the country for medical education from other states of India, but they are telling us we have some problems with Kashmiri students,” Idris Ali, father of an applicant said.

“But since at least 600 students from Kashmir and thousands from rest of India go to Bangladesh for medical education, the missions are aware of the Indian certificates and don’t usually insist on equivalence certificates any more,” he said.

A Bangladesh diplomat in Kolkata told this writer that Kashmiri students are supposed to apply for the visa at the country’s high commission in Delhi which takes care of northern Indian states.

“Our missions have clear territorial jurisdictions and we usually stick to it,” he said but was not willing to be identified.

But that changed after media reports, beginning with Northeast Now, highlighted the uncertainties of the Kashmiri students.

Bangladesh foreign ministry promised to sort out the problem by the end of January.

Bangladesh has emerged as a popular destination for medical students from India and elsewhere in South Asia.

Bhutan’s Prime Minister is a doctor by profession who graduated from Mymensingh Medical College in 2001 and later completed his post-graduate degree in surgery from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka.

The website of the Smile Consultancy says MBBS degree from Bangladesh is increasingly attractive for Indians who find it difficult to clear tough entrance exams back home or are not able to pay high fees in private colleges in India.

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