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HindustanTimes Sun,24 Aug 2014

Comatose African student airlifted to his country

PTI   Patiala, June 16, 2014
First Published: 15:10 IST(16/6/2014) | Last Updated: 08:59 IST(17/6/2014)

Burundi national Yannick Nihangaza was on Monday flown out of India in an air ambulance to his country in Africa more than two years after the computer science student went into a coma following an attack on him in Jalandhar.

Nihangaza, who was admitted at a private hospital here for more than two years, was airlifted by a team of doctors of 'Saras Rescue' to his home country via Amritsar and Al Ain in UAE early ton Monday at 6.30 am.

The young man was airlifted to his country after the Punjab government agreed to bear the Rs. 75 lakh cost for the same, an official spokesman said.

Punjab minister Surjit Singh Rakhra and deputy commissioner Varun Roozam were present at the airport for Nihangaza's departure. The air ambulance will take him to Brumic Medical and Research Centre in Burundi.

Nihangaza's father Nestor Ntibateganya thanked Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and SPS Oberoi, the managing trustee of Sarbat Da Bhala Charitable trust, an NGO, for facilitating their return to Burundi.

Nihangaza has remained on life support (ventilator) system ever since the assault on him by some youths in Jalandhar where he was pursuing a bachelor's degree in computer science at Lovely Professional University.

He was headed to a party on April 22, 2012, when he was attacked by a group of nine students. Seven of the nine attackers, who were also students, have been sentenced to 10 years' in jail; the remaining two reportedly fled to Australia.

Nihangaza's father had written to Badal on June 20, 2012, regarding the condition of his son whereupon Nihangaza was shifted to Patiala from Jalandhar.

As the case sparked outrage in Punjab and was in some circles construed as having racial overtones, the state government promised to bear all expenses of the treatment and also agreed to airlift Nihangaza.

The members of Sarbat Da Bhala Trust have also handed USD 1,000 to Nestor.

Dr Parvez Aslam of Saras Rescue told PTI that, "Our team of aero-medically trained professionals follows strict medical transport procedures and protocol, with the patient's well- being as our primary consideration."

Meanwhile, the Colombia Asia hospital here has handed over the bill for Nihangaza's treatment to SDM Gurpal Singh Chahal.

But the chief of medical services at the hospital, (Brig) Dr V Bhatnagar, refused to give details of the bill. Hospital sources said that a bill of Rs. 3.5 crore has been submitted with the authorities for the treatment of Nihangaza for over two years.

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