50 Days Later, 95 Bihar Students Stuck in Vizag To Be Sent Home
It has been 50 long days and still they have received no sign of a ticket home.
After 50 long days, 95 students stuck in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh have finally received the sign to go home to Bihar. The 17-year-olds had come for IIT coaching at Sri Chaitanya Junior College in Boyapaleam, Madhurwara in the district.
Every day we hear stories of migrants across the country walking several miles to go home or reaching out to the government as they don’t have money even for the next meal. And here are kids sitting in a hostel, away from their homes, who were being promised the same thing every day.
A few panic-stricken kids reached out to The Quint to share their woes and demanded that the Bihar and Andhra Pradesh government treat their plea with urgency.
The names of all the students have been withheld to protect their identities.
This development comes after this report was published on 13 May. The students have been informed that that four buses have been arranged for the to be dropped till Patna in Bihar. Their parents should pick them up from a common point to go to their respective districts, said a student.
The students also alleged that they have been told to pay Rs 15,000 per person for the travel which means the sum total will run into several lakhs. The principal told The Quint he will confirm these details later in the evening once the arrangements have been finalised.
‘Gas Leak Has Made Us Scared’
After the last board exam in March, the XIIth graders were busy preparing for their IIT entrance exam when they were told that the exam has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A few kids are 16-year-olds who are will be writing their XII board exams the coming year and were preparing for the IIT entrance exam at the institute.
While most of the students managed to leave, over 95 students who had booked train and flight tickets for 24 March and later, were not able to leave as the complete lockdown was announced throughout the country.
All these kids hail from Bihar.
“Students from other states have all received a pass and they left. Two students from Jharkhand left only a day back. We have been trying every way possible,” said Rima*, a XI grader.
“Since the gas leak happened, our parents have been very worried and even we are always scared. Even after the incident, we haven’t received a favourable response.”Soni, Student
At least 11 people, including two children, have died after a chemical gas leakage at the plant in Visakhapatnam's RR Venkatapuram village in Andhra Pradesh at around 3 am on 7 May.
Bad Food, Erratic Water Supply
The students were staying at the accommodation provided by the institute. Though they are short-staffed, the administration assured that the children are being provided proper meals and other essentials.
However, the students had a different story to tell.
“We are being forced by the administration to tell that we are being provided good food. Some students are being forced to even make videos saying this,” said Nihal*, another student.
“The administration is giving the Collector wrong information that we are well fed. We are being given some watery dal like food. It is really bad. There are times there is no water supply and even drinking water,” said Suyash*.
“I believe since we are not struggling they think there is no urgency to send us home. We are not able to study well. We are not able to even sleep well because there are bed bugs. Some of us sleep on chairs.”Student
The Principal denied these allegations and said they understand that the students are ‘frustrated’ because they have been stuck in the same place for so long.
“One day, we are told the administration has spoken to the District Magistrate and that we will be sent home in two days. Another day, they say the officials have told them that they can make arrangements to even reach till the border but nothing beyond. We are hearing different things but still not getting permission,” said Romani*.
“Our parents also have reached out to officials in Bihar who are saying it is not in their hands. That Tamil Nadu has to make arrangements. People went to Kota right, why can’t we go. At least give us permission to go by car,” a student appealed.
Speaking to The Quint, the Principal of the institute said on Wednesday that, “We have applied for a pass in the government website spandana.ap.gov.in. Simultaneously, we have submitted a written letter to the Joint Collector here in Visakhapatnam. We have been told that the letter has been forwarded to the nodal officer as well.”
He confirmed that they received the pass late Wednesday evening and are arranging for four buses to drop the children at Patna in Bihar.
Several students raised the issue that they have online classes going on but, "We are not in the right mental state to study. We are always so afraid,” a student said.
“We are mentally frustrated. And on top of that, the administration is telling us ‘Study! study! How can we study like this.”Student
‘We just want to home. Can you make that happen?-’ pleaded every student this reporter spoke to.
The Quint reached out to the Collector and Joint Collector in Visakhapatnam but didn’t get a response.
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