Over 1,200 students from Bihar, who had been stranded in Kota for more than a month due to lockdown, finally left for their home state in a special train on Sunday, but another 10,000 still remained stuck in the Rajasthan city.
The 1,211 students seated in 24 coaches departed from Kota for Begusarai around 12 noon.
A second train with no scheduled stoppage during the journey with another batch of students from Gaya Zone will depart Kota Sunday night, railway officials said.
The Kota administration has notified students about their travel plans through texts on their mobile phones and only those students who have received the message are allowed to enter the railway station, said Pramod Mewara, a coaching institute member liaising with the district administration for the exercise.
A large number of students had gathered outside the Kota station in the hope of boarding the train.
Over 12,000 students from different parts of Bihar had been stuck in Kota since the lockdown began on March 25. They had repeatedly urged the Bihar government to ensure their safe return to their homes amid the coronavirus outbreak. Some students had even staged a protest near their hostels against the Bihar government.
But Chief Minister Nitish Kumar refused to arrange for the travel of the migrants, saying doing so would compromise the fight against the virus. He has been criticised for his stance, especially after the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh sent buses to Kota to bring its students, with the opposition RJD calling Kumar "totally confused".
"I am very relieved and thankful to the government and institute that I am eventually leaving for home in Begusarai today. We were facing a lot of trouble and hardships because of the lockdown and were desperately waiting to return," said Raviraj, a resident of Begusarai district, after boarding the train.
Officials of the district administration, including the DM, did not receive calls for comments.
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