Over 800 students stranded in Kota for over a month boarded 40 buses to return home to Delhi on Saturday. They are likely to be sent home after screening in Delhi on Sunday morning.
Kota in Rajasthan is a coaching hub for entrance examinations, attracting students from across the country. Among them is Khwaish Paul (21), who had been staying in her hostel with just one other student — a resident of Bihar — for over a week. The other students had left through arrangements with their respective state governments. The first to leave were over 7,000 students from Uttar Pradesh, followed by students from West Bengal and Jharkhand.
“My parents, who live in Kalyanpuri, have been worried and had tried reaching out to our local MLA for help in bringing us back. More than anything, it was stressful and also quite scary to live alone in a place where I don’t know anyone else,” said Khwaish.
Subhash Kumar (21), a medical aspirant from Kapashera, said that as his hostel got emptier, he started getting more homesick.
“Our session ended in early March and the lockdown here began in mid-March, so we were stuck here after our classes were suspended. The coaching centre has been conducting online tests, so all of us would study through the night together. But once they started to leave, even that became difficult because the anxiety grew. The hostel owner also kept asking when I would leave. My family’s finances have also been affected by the lockdown, so my father couldn’t send the mess dues on time last month. So they didn’t serve me food,” he said.
On Saturday afternoon, the students were asked to assemble at four centres closest to them, where they were divided according to the districts in Delhi where their families live.
“Forty buses reached Kota in Rajasthan around 10 am to bring back around 800 students to Delhi. Not more than 20 students will be allowed on a bus. They will be screened at the time of departure and arrival,” said Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot on Saturday. He also said that the buses were all sanitised after reaching Kota and before the students boarded.
The buses, which were provided by the Delhi Contract Bus Association, left Delhi with a team to ensure safe passage.
Harish Sabharwal, general secretary of the association, said, “We have provided PPE kits for staff, and masks, face shields and sanitiser bottles. Full sanitisation of buses was done at both points. One home guard and one constable of Delhi Police were deployed in each bus. A team of doctors were also part of the team. All buses were luxury AC so that social distancing could be taken care of. Not more than 22 students were allowed in a bus.”
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