Lockdown 3.0: Around 500 students make their way back home to J&K
Close to 500 students from Jammu and Kashmir were evacuated from Haryana on Wednesday, more than six weeks after a nationwide lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The students were ferried from six districts—Gurugram, Faridabad, Ambala, Hisar, Nuh and Yamunanagar—in 23 buses dispatched by the J&K administration.
The second phase of evacuation, for labourers and professionals currently stranded in the state, is scheduled for later this week, officials said. “Our priority was to ensure that students can get home to their families. We will continue to make similar arrangements for other migrants,” Dr Inderjot Singh, manager at Jammu & Kashmir House in Chandigarh, and a liaison officer for J&K migrants in Haryana. Earlier, between May 7 and May 9, at least 25 buses left Chandigarh for J&K, carrying about 200 students and 700 workers back home, Singh confirmed.
As per official rolls, a total of 499 students left for J&K from Haryana, of which 333 were from Gurugram. A total of 15 buses left the district around 7pm on Wednesday. Similarly, three buses ferried 70 students from Ambala, two buses from Faridabad carried 37 students, while one bus each was dispatched to Hisar, Nuh and Yamunanagar by the Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation to bring back 59 students scattered across these districts. The buses arrived in Haryana early Wednesday.
“The students were screened for symptoms at camps and government hospitals in their areas starting Tuesday. They will all be screened a second time at Lakhanpur, on the Punjab-J&K border,” Arshad Yousuf, executive director of the Jammu and Kashmir chapter of the International Human Rights Organisation (a non-profit body), which has been working with district authorities to ensure their passage back home.
“The students were required to first register on the J&K administration portal for stranded migrants before they could be screened,” Arshad added. In Gurugram, students were screened at Civil Hospital in Sector 10 before being granted medical certificates, allowing them to make the interstate journey back home. None of the students showed any symptoms, a health department official at Civil Hospital confirmed, seeking anonymity.
Hindustan Times had reported on May 11 that several students and workers stranded in Gurugram were facing uncertainty over their chances of returning to J&K. Several of the students who HT spoke with were able to return on Wednesday.
One of them, Hamidullah Malik, a resident of Kupwara district who has been living in Gurugram’s Sector 18 while preparing for the National Eligibility Test (NET), said, “For weeks after the lockdown we had no idea what would happen. In the last few days, we have been unable to properly speak to our friends and families due to the Internet shutdown in Kashmir. It is a relief to finally be on our way.”
Aman Yadav, nodal officer for migrant travel back to J&K, did not respond to requests seeking comment.