The Tamil Nadu government has restricted the entry of flights to the state under the Vande Bharat Mission.

A group of stranded medical students in Kryskistan
news Evacuation Wednesday, July 08, 2020 - 18:32

Over 700 students from Tamil Nadu pursuing medicine in Kyrgyzstan have been left in a bind as the Kyrgyzstan government has told them to leave to their home countries amid the coronavirus pandemic. With no direct flights to Chennai under Vande Bharat Mission, the students are left without an option to return to Tamil Nadu. They have urged the Indian government and TN state goevrnment to arrange for special flights to Tamil Nadu.

Kyrgyzstan with a population of over 62 lakh has 8,141 patients with COVID-19. Of this total, 6,366 cases are concentrated in the capital of Bishkek, where the medical students now find themselves stranded.

Around 300 Tamil students managed to reach India under the Vande Bharat Mission but lack of direct flights have the others stranded. "If the government doesn’t operate flights then our option is to go to Delhi and stay in a quarantine facility for 7 days. Then we have to look for a flight and come back to Tamil Nadu. The lack of direct flights to Tamil Nadu makes things difficult for us. The ticket prices are also high. Certain institutes have arranged for private flights to evacuate students. But many are left here without help,” said Samsutheen Shabir, a student stranded in Kyrgyzstan.

The Centre has said that Tamil Nadu government has restricted the number of flight operations under Vande Bharat Mission to the state.

When a case filed by DMK came up for hearing on June 29, the Centre informed the Madras High Court that based on the request by the Tamil Nadu government, fewer international flights were being operated to the state.

Plight of students in Kyrgyzstan

In Kyrgyzstan, the students have received little or no help from the people since the lockdown was imposed there. “The last flight to Chennai was operated on July 4 and we do not have flights for the next 15 days. However, the Kyrgyzstan government has told us to evacuate. They have told us that they are not responsible for Indian students. Hence we want to leave by the time the situation is safe here. If not, we will not even get treatment at hospitals. So far none of the students have contracted the coronavirus infection, hence we are able to handle the situation for now,” said Samsutheen.

The medical students are unable to even get medicines for a common cold or flu. “We are finding it difficult to even procure tablets since they do not have familiar brands. They also carry Russian alphabets due to which we are unable to read and use them," he said.

The supply of rice from Pakistan and India has also stopped resulting in a shortage of rice. "Hence we are not getting enough rice and buying essentials have become difficult", he added.