Kota, Rajasthan: Nearly 3,000 students stranded in Kota due to the ongoing lockdown left for their home in 100 buses sent by the UP government but another 7,000 were waiting for their turn in the Rajasthan city on Saturday.
The UP government had sent 250 buses to Kota on Friday, estimating the total number of students to be around 7,500, but more students gathered at the three boarding points in the city after learning about the travel arrangement.
Some of the students were accompanied by their parents.
Officials now fear the buses available could be inadequate to accommodate all the students willing to return home. But Kota Public Relations Deputy Director Hariom Gurjar told PTI that the UP government has assured them that more buses would be arranged if there is a shortfall.
The Kota administration had prepared the list of students based on information received from coaching institutes and did not account for those studying in the city without enrolling in any institute, officials said.
The 100 buses with around 3,000 students left for UP early Saturday, Additional Superintendent of Police Rajesh Mill, overseeing the exercise, told PTI.
The process to send the remaining students whose names are in the list is underway, Mill added.
Asked about the students who are not listed, he expressed the inability of the Kota administration in arranging more buses, saying, "It would not be possible at our level. The resources have to come from there (UP) and we can only cooperate and maintain social distancing while sending the students back home".
He said he "cannot comment" on what additional resources would be needed and who would arrange them.
The remaining 7,000 students largely belong to the Agra division, said Nitesh Sharma, a member of Allen Career Institute. "We have asked some students enlisted for departure to not move out of the hostels until more buses are arranged."
The students had started a social media campaign #SendUsBackHome on Tuesday, following which the UP government decided to bring them back.
The move earned praise from Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who said other state governments should follow Uttar Pradesh.
"As the UP govt called back students of UP living in #Kota #Rajasthan, it can also be done for students from other states. Students in Kota can be sent to their home states on the consent of the concerned state govt so that these young boys & girls do not panic or feel depressed," Gehlot wrote on Twitter handle on Friday.
The buses have been sanitised and the students departing for hometowns are being thermal screened before boarding them. Food packets, water bottles, masks are also being provided to the students.