Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday said that five more states are expected to arrange for the return of their students studying in the coaching hub in Kota city. Last week, the Uttar Pradesh government had sent 250 buses to bring back stranded students amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, [West] Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Assam are all nearly ready to take their students back from Kota,” Gehlot said during a media briefing via video-conferencing. “The students are young, between 16 and 23. They were feeling disturbed. Uttar Pradesh has taken back its students. Madhya Pradesh wants to take back students. Chhattisgarh has agreed, I have spoken to the chief ministers of West Bengal and Assam. So the Kota chapter will close.”
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Gehlot said the students were feeling more disturbed because they were away from home, living as tenants. “Successfully, the chief secretary spoke to the central authorities and got them to agree to this despite the restrictions on inter-statement movement,” he added.
Thousands of students, preparing for competitive engineering and medical examinations, have been stranded in Kota since the Centre imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25. They have been anxious to return to their homes since the lockdown was extended till May 3.
Last week, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation, the students in Kota began a social media campaign called #SendUsBackHome, following which the Uttar Pradesh government reportedly decided to get involved. However, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a key ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, called it an injustice and said it was against the purpose of the lockdown.
Rajasthan has a total of 1,478 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 14 patients have died in the state. There have also been 183 recoveries. The Union health ministry on Monday evening updated India’s tally to 17,656 cases and the toll to 559.