India landed into a standstill after Prime Minister Narendra Modi the nationwide lockdown on 24 March 2020. The shutdown was aimed to contain spread of novel Coronavirus in the country but due to extreme circumstances, it proved to be very difficult for some sections of the society.
Migrant laborers, Students, and Tourists were stranded where they were without not many resources and a long time to pass in isolation before they could return back home. While many migrants set on foot towards their destinations in the hope of finding food and shelter, tourists rushed for movement passes and other relief measures. Students got stuck in their hostels and accommodations which they could not leave due to lockdown. They somehow got through the lockdown but their hopes of returning back to their families were again smashed after the country announced lockdown 2.0 that would go on till 3 May 2020. This extension proved to be rather harsh for a number of students.
A similar situation arose in Kota, Rajasthan where thousands of students, mostly minors were stuck in compact hostel rooms. When calls of students begging to return home reached to ears of district administration and their state authorities several arrangements were made to facilitate their return.
Why Lakhs of Students go to Kota?
Every year 1.5 to 2 lakh students go to Kota with the dream of getting into top engineering and medical colleges and enroll themselves to prepare for IIT and medical entrance examinations. These students spend their day and night in the hope of a bright future. Away from their friends and families, many students consider Kota as their ‘Karmabhoomi’ where they come to sacrifice and work hard to achieve a dream.
How Kota Facilitated Return of Students to their Homes
Due to the lockdown, thousands of students got stuck in Kota. The city is a coaching hub and is a great attraction for engineering and medical aspirants. Everyone knows has heard about it and the chair holders did knew about it too.
To bring back stranded students, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath let the state government send 350 buses to get the students back from Kota. 200 buses were sent from Agra and another 150 buses were sent from Jhansi. Thousands of students of UP had been stuck for the past month as they have been studying there for the competitive exams before the lockdown. About 13,000 students were sent back to their home in UP.
After Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh government also made the move and sent 150 private buses to bring back about 2600 students. These buses were first sanitized in Gwalior and then sent to get the stranded students from Kota where they were again sanitized and students were made to sit away from each other so that they practice social distancing.
Other state governments also followed the suit and sent buses to bring back students. 300 students each from Gujarat and Maharashtra were sent back to their homes.
Students from Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Chhatisgarh, and other states were also sent back from Kota.
In a latest move, Delhi government has sent 40 buses to Kota to get the stranded students. Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal made the announcement on 1 May 2020, the day when India initiated lockdown 3.0. About 800 students from Delhi are in Kota who will be brought back by the government, Kejriwal stated. He further mentioned that students will have to self isolate themselves for at least two weeks post-return.
Students Return: Two sides of a coin
The move to bring back students has got both the criticism and praise for the governments as the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar raised questions on violating the norms of lockdown.
He questioned why government favoured students while lakhs of migrant workers and labourers are stranded away from home without any resources.
Bihar CM’s statement interested politicians as the majority of students in Kota arrive from Bihar. Students appealed to the state government to make arrangements for their return home but no buses from Bihar were sent to Kota to bring back stranded students. After the announcement of lockdown 3.0, India’s central government allowed some relaxations including special trains for students and migrants. Several such trains are now running from Kota taking students to their home states.