When Syeda Wahaj Fatima bid goodbye to her daughter Syeda Lulu Minhaj back in August 2021, when she left for her Masters in the United States from Telangana, it meant things were looking up for a family that was reeling under the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But a recent video of the 37-year-old Minhaj living in dire conditions on the roads of Chicago, a city in the US, has now led to Fatima running from pillar to post in hope of a way that can let her reach the country to take care of her daughter.
“I was not able to recognise my own daughter in the video. She has changed a lot, this is not how she used to interact or act with others,” an emotional Fatima told The Free Press Journal. Fatima also wrote a letter to Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, on July 22 and urged for his intervention to bring back Minhaj to India.
Who is Syeda Lulu Minhaj ?
According to Fatima, Minhaj was a former lecturer at Shadan College in Hyderabad but was impacted with the closure of classes during the pandemic in 2020. Seeing an opportunity to do a Masters in the US, Minhaj, an Mtech graduate, left for the country to pursue post graduation in Information Science at Trine University in Detroit.
“Everything was going well with her. But two months ago somebody stole her mobile phone while she was on her way to another University in Ohio. When she ran behind the person, she forgot her bag on the road which was later taken by somebody else,” said Fatima, who got a call from Minhaj back in May after the incident from a stranger’s phone. “The stranger said on the call that his bus was coming and had to leave. I haven’t spoken to my daughter since that day,” stated Fatima, who added in the letter that she got to know from two Hyderabadi youths in the US that Minhaj was under depression and going through starvation when they first found her outside a Masjid in Chicago.
Video shows Minhaj asking for food, speaking incoherently
The viral video showed an incoherent Minhaj thanking a man for offering her food, while adding that she was bleeding and taken to paramedics before though it is not clear what actually transpired. “I would like some palak and dahi (curd),” Minhaj requested to the man helping her in the video.
People come together to support Minhaj
Politicians and activists have already come to the rescue of the Telangana native, with Khaleequr Rahman, a leader of Bharat Rashtra Samithi, formerly known as Telangana Rashtra Samithi, stating that he was able to get Minhaj in touch with a social activist in Chicago.
“I was able to get in touch with Mr.Mukarram, who is a social worker in Chicago. He and his family met her and she is right now admitted into a hospital. He told me that she is in major depression & mentally unstable condition due to the financial situation she got into as she couldn’t get the job. The first & the foremost thing is to get her out of the depression, then only she will be able to travel to India,” said the video tweet by Rahman, which showed Minhaj being taken care of by an Indian-origin family. Rahman added that he is helping Fatima to get a visa to the US by getting more details so that she can take care of Minhaj.
No passport with Minhaj's mother, seeks help in reaching US
But despite best efforts, an immediate visa for Fatima seems unlikely as she is also taking care of her ailing husband.
“I have been going to some visa offices trying to get help but it doesn’t seem possible that I will get a visa soon. Minhaj’s father is also a heart patient and her sister is now married. So I am taking care of everything at home,” stated Fatima, who doesn’t own a passport.
As per a report by ANI, Amjed Ullah Khan, a spokesperson of the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT), a party based in Telangana, has also appealed to IT Minister KTR (Telangana) to help in getting them passports and also a visa from the US Consulate in Hyderabad.
“I just want to talk to my daughter and see her once. I hope parents and students are well aware of everything before going abroad, with parents also taking a visa beforehand just in case anything wrong happens to their children there,” asserted Fatima.