PALAKKAD/KOCHI: For the 44 Malayali students who were stranded in Milan, Italy, it was an end of a 33-day-long ordeal as they reached Kerala on Monday. They had spent a month in quarantine after reaching New Delhi on March 15 and they have to be in home isolation for another two weeks, but they won’t bother.
It was a day to celebrate -- having fled Milan, where the Covid pandemic was spreading fast --- and reached comforts of their homes. But it came at the end of an arduous three-day journey from Delhi to Kerala, without proper food and accommodation. They could not find a proper bathroom facility via a bus and traveller, all arranged by themselves.
“Other than the travel pass received from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), we didn’t get much support from the state government. Be it the travel or short stay on the route, all were arranged by ourselves. All these have happened when we had a pregnant student travelling with us,” said a Malappuram native.
‘It is quite appalling that our govt didn’t support us’
The students had other hiccups during their travel. “As Telangana border was closed at night, we had to stay back at a hotel for a night. Despite the Covid negative report and travel pass, we had to go through medical checkups at every state’s border. Though the journey wasn’t completely uncomfortable, it is quite appalling that our government didn’t support us,” he said.The team also consisted of seven students from Tamil Nadu and three from Maharashtra.
Gayathri P Menekath, one of the students, was relieved after reaching Walayar, the gateway to Kerala.
“I had joined Politecnico di Milano university in Milan only eight months ago. We had completed the first semester. The second semester was about to begin in February but due to the outbreak of corona, the classes were made online. Many Indian students had left for home in February itself. Only some stayed back thinking that the situation would improve. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come,” said Gayathri. “In March, a lockdown was declared in Italy. Many students from Kerala are studying in different universities in Rome and Milan,” she narrated the events that led to her staying back in Italy even when the pandemic peaked.
Gayathri said the students received a call from the Indian embassy in Rome on March 13, stating that there was an Air India flight which would evacuate Indians the next day.“We expressed our willingness to return home immediately as with each passing day we were experiencing great tension,” said Gayathri, who was one of the two students who alighted at Palakkad and drove off to her home at Nelliampathy.Gayathri had completed her B Tech in Computer Science from the Amrita College of Engineering at Vallikavu, Kollam and bagged a scholarship to study her MS in Milan, Italy for her MS in Computer science.
“In my college, there were five Malayalee students and all of them returned home. We landed in New Delhi on March 15. We were taken to the ITDP camp there and quarantined for 28 days. Two tests were done using swab samples and the results of both were negative,” said Gayathri.She said the facilities at the ITBP camp in New Delhi were wonderful and the students were well looked after. All the evacuation and quarantine camp expenses were borne by the government.
Gayathri said she would return to Italy only after the travel ban is lifted and would study online until then.The students hailing from Malabar were sent home in an ambulance from Palakkad. The students to Thrissur and onward were sent in the bus itself.
A harrowing time
Gayathri P Menekath, one of the students of Politecnico di Milano university who was stranded in Milan, said the other students received a call from the Indian embassy in Rome on March 13 after the country imposed a lockdown, stating that there was an Air India flight which would evacuate Indians the next day.
She said they expressed their willingness to return home immediately
When Gayathri reached Walayar, she was relieved. She alighted at Palakkad and drove off to her home at Nelliampathy