All the needs of Bihar students stranded in Kota should be met by the Bihar government, the Patna High Court said today. This should include food and medical expenses also, the court said amid concerns about the students who make a beeline to the Rajasthan city known for its coaching centres for all-India competitive exams.
The lockdown has created a tough situation for students, many of whom live on shoestring budgets in rented accommodations. Neighbouring Uttar Pradesh has said it would bring the students home, raising similar demands from parents in Bihar.
During today's court hearing via teleconference yes .. it was pointed out today that the situation of the students is similar to that of migrant labourers, a case regarding whom is being heard in Supreme Court.
Petitions in the top court have demanded that migrant labourers across the country -- most of whom are from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal -- who test negative for COVID-19 be allowed to return home. In the hearing yesterday, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to the matter within a week.
Today, the counsel representing the Centre requested the court for yet another adjournment, in view of the case involving the migrants. The Centre, he told the Patna court, will inform the top court about its stand on next Monday. The matter has now been adjourned till May 5.
The hearing in the Supreme Court took place amid the Uttar Pradesh government's move to bring home thousands of labourers from neighbouring Haryana. Till Sunday evening, more than 12,000 labourers were sent to their home districts, where they were placed on mandatory quarantine.
The Bihar government has objected to the move, saying transporting such huge numbers of people would interfere with the rules of social distancing and defeat the very purpose of the lockdown.
The state has said it would pay for those students who have asked for help.
There is a scheme for migrants facing tough circumstances, under which they receive a relief amount of Rs 1,000 when they apply online. There are demands that the government open the scheme for the students.
Pratyay Amrit, Principal Secretary of the state's Disaster Management Department said, "Much before today's court directive, we have been reaching out to all those residents outside state and in fact transferred Rs 1000 in over 18 lakh accounts so far. We are in touch with local district administration of Kota and all the needful is being done".
But the Chief Minister has also been criticized by many who expect more from the state.
Today, election strategist Prashant Kishore, once a partyman and a close aide of Mr Kumar, mocked the Chief Minister over the initiative.
His Hindi tweet, roughly translated, says: "The condition of thousands of people from Bihar stranded in various parts of India because of the lockdown is pitiful. But Nitish Kumar, bound by the rules of lockdown, has only one solution to offer - a relief amount of Rs 1,000, for some of those stranded. We have to be grateful to him for the rest of our lives for this generosity."