The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday said it had sent 300 buses, including 200 from Agra, to bring back students of the State stranded in Rajasthan’s Kota, a hub of coaching centres for competitive examinations.
A government official in Agra said 200 buses were sent from the district while another 100 were dispatched from Jhansi in Bundelkhand.
Additional District Magistrate (City) Agra Prabha Kant Awasthi said that though the number of students of U.P. stranded in Kota was not known, each bus would carry 25 students.
The administration had dispatched food, water bottles, sanitisers and masks along with the buses, he said.
Mr. Awasthi said the buses were being sent to Kota to bring back the students “on the demand” of the Rajasthan government.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the move by U.P. could be followed by other States as well.
“Students in Kota can be sent to their home states on the consent of the concerned state government so that these young boys & girls do not panic or feel depressed,” Mr. Gehlot said on Twitter.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, however, expressed his reservations over the U.P. government’s move, and called it an injustice and against the principle of lockdown.
Earlier, when busloads of students had arrived in Bihar from Rajasthan, Mr. Kumar had asked the State Chief Secretary to speak to the Union Home Minister on the violation of the lockdown.
The U.P. government’s decision came after a “#sendusbackhome campaign” students of coaching classes in Kota, which started trending on Twitter two days ago. About 7,500 students from U.P. are reportedly stranded in Kota.
The buses started leaving Kota for different towns in U.P. late on Friday night.
The district administration made arrangements for sanitising the buses and screening of the students, who were staying in hostels and paying guest accommodations, prior to their departure from the city.
Kota city, considered the headquarters of the Hadoti region, is situated in south-eastern Rajasthan, about 250 km away from Jaipur.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav welcomed the move to bring back the students stranded in Kota but wondered if the government had any plan to bring back stranded migrant workers and the poor who were “falling prey to starvation”.
[Inputs from Amarnath Tewary in Patna and Mohammad Iqbal in Jaipur.]
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