The Uttar Pradesh government has send 200 buses from Agra and another 100 from Jhansi to Rajasthan's Kota where thousands of students from across the country preparing for competitive exams have been stranded by the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.
"The buses are being sent to bring back kids who are stuck in Kota. We are sending food, water bottles, masks and sanitisers. Each bus will be able to bring back 25 kids. Some buses will also be sent from Jhansi," a senior government official in Agra said.
A city of around 30 lakh, Kota is a hub of coaching centres and educational institutes where students go to prepare for tough entrance examinations to engineering and medical colleges after finishing school.
Welcoming the move, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ahok Gehlot said other states could also make arrangements to bring back their students.
As the UP government called back students of UP living in Kota, it can also be done for students from other states. Students in Kota can be sent to their home states on the consent of the state government concerned so that these young boys & girls do not panic or feel depressed.
However, the move was criticised by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who said, "The way special buses are being send to bring students from Kota is an injustice with the principles of lockdown." Kumar, a key BJP ally, called it "injustice" and against the principle of the nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus. He said his government has already taken up the subject in a formal letter to the central home ministry.
"This will open up a Pandora's box. If you allow students, on what grounds can you stop migrant labourers who are also stuck," Bihar Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar has said in the letter urging that special permits granted by the Rajasthan government be stopped.
Voicing concern about students returning in large numbers, at the risk of spreading the infection, Kumar said coaching classes in Kota should be resumed in a staggered manner.
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