Students stranded in Kota: Bihar govt seeks time to reply, Opposition steps up attack
The Bihar government on Wednesday sought time to reply to a letter from the Patna high court regarding the safety of students from the state stranded at Kota in Rajasthan and other parts of the country and whether they could be brought back.
Noting that the chief justice of Patna high court was concerned about the issue, registrar general Nawneet Kumar Pandey had written to the chief secretary that “before any appropriate action is taken on the judicial side, it is desired of you to respond to the communication latest by Wednesday”.
“We are awaiting a reply. May be it will come tomorrow,” said Pandey.
The registrar general had written in the letter: “Whether all or any one of the students studying outside the state should or can be brought back, within the constraints of the guidelines and the directions issued by the Central/state governments, is for the administration to consider and take appropriate action in that regard, but certainly, safety and security of all the students studying at various places outside Bihar, under all circumstances being of prime importance, must and should be ensured.”
Advocate Ajay Thakur, who had sent a representation to the chief justice through WhatsApp seeking the safe return of students studying at Kota, said the state government has sought time till Thursday for its reply.
Thakur, in his representation, said the students cannot be equated with migrant workers, whose movement across states has been barred during the nationwide lockdown.
“While the migrant labourers have moved out in search of a livelihood, the students are dependents and minors and have gone for studies. They are not getting food, as mess facility has closed down, according to newspaper reports, and they are facing difficulties,” he said.
The issue has assumed political overtones, with leader of opposition Tejaswhi Prasad Yadav and former chief minister Rabri Devi consistently demanding the students be brought back, as has been done by other states, while the Bihar government has insisted this is not the right time to do in view of high risk of Coronavirus infections and the guidelines for the lockdown.
“The government is more concerned about the safety of children and that is why it is refraining from bringing them back during the lockdown, when the risk of infection is higher. The government is also making all efforts to ensure the students get all help. Issuing statements on Twitter is easy, understanding the gravity of the situation is quite difficult,” said JD-U spokesman and state information minister Neeraj Kumar.
The Madhya Pradesh government has sent 150 buses to bring back some 3,000 students from Kota, a hub for coaching centres that prepare students for competitive examinations. This follows the Uttar Pradesh government’s repatriation of 6,000 students from Kota.
However, these moves have been criticised in some quarters as a violation of the guidelines of the lockdown at a time when the government has been insisting that even Indians stranded abroad should stay put to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.