Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said that a non-AC train will be arranged to bring back students from Delhi, but it’s been met with some skepticism by the students.

Poster of walk from Delhi to Kerala by students
news Coronavirus Saturday, May 16, 2020 - 12:32

A section of students from Kerala stranded in Delhi have said they will walk back home if either state or central governments do not arrange transportation facilities before May 17.

Though the Kerala government had earlier promised the students that they will be brought back in special trains, not everyone could come back because the Centre announced commencement of special AC trains that many students found unaffordable.

“Though a few of the students were able to travel back in the special AC trains paying high fares, hundreds of us are still stranded here. Despite officials of the Department of Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) meeting with us, they are citing random issues as a reason for the delay,”  Sneha Susan Shaji, a student of Delhi University and national coordinator of National Students' Union of India, told TNM. 

“At first the NORKA officials had said that the delay was because the state government had to pay the railways in advance. Then we said that Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee and Kerala Muslim Cultural Committee’s Delhi chapter are ready to pay the amount. But NORKA officials said there are constraints to accept that money too. We even said that the students will bear the cost, but they said the government won’t agree to that as well,” Sneha said. 

She added that many students are continuing to stay in college hostels, despite directions to vacate, as they have no choice. 

“In Jamia Millia Islamia, the women’s hostel is being converted into a COVID-19 care centre. Students have been asked to vacate and Friday was the last day for this. Kerala students are still staying there as there is nowhere else to go,” added Sneha.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday, during his daily press meet, said that arrangements are being made to bring back the students and a non-AC train will be arranged. He also mentioned that students will have to pay for the train ticket. 

On being asked about the call given by a section of students to walk back to Kerala, the CM said that he was not aware about such a statement. He said that the delay in arranging transport was because of the confusion regarding the number of students left in Delhi as some had come by AC trains already. “The remaining students have raised the issue of high fare of AC trains, so non-air conditioned trains will be arranged,” said Pinarayi Vijayan. 

He added that trains will be arranged within one or two days. 

However, the announcement by the CM has been met with some skepticism by the students. 

“Earlier also this was announced, but nothing happened. We will wait till Saturday night, if still no specific information regarding this is given, we will start to walk. It is not that we want to walk back home, but we are forced to. Around 50 of us will start walking,” said Zakir Hussain, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia. 

Also read: Kerala devises specific plans to tackle expected heavy rains of Southwest monsoon

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