KOCHI: It's been more than three months since 225 Malayali medical students were stranded in their college hostels in Kyrgyzstan. These students reached out to the Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Indian Embassy in Kyrgyzstan and Norka Roots, but in vain.
Around 400 students from the state are studying in five colleges situated in the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan. Despite being under quarantine in their hostels, these 225 students have been attempting to return.
"As our university has permitted us to return and write our semester exams online, we decided to reach home before the situation worsens. As many as 50 students of International Higher School of Medicine (IHSM) and 165 students of Osh State University have tried their best to find a place in the Vande Bharat Mission," said RS Ajayaraj of Pathanamthitta, who is a medical student there.
Even in the third phase of the mission, which will operate flights till June 28, no service has been chartered to Kerala. "Our classmates from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh etc have returned. It's frustrating when authorities pass the buck amid numerous requests for evacuation," said the 21-year-old student.
The lack of communication from authorities has severely affected the morale of anxious students. "So far, we have only received a letter from the Kerala government's principal secretary, which was sent to the Indian Embassy and MEA to initiate action. Over 2,000 cases have been reported in Kyrgyzstan and it will increase in the coming days. The Indian government needs to intervene immediately," said Anandhu Anilkumar of Kollam, another student.
A majority of these students hail from the southern part of the state. Thanks to their university administration, the students are provided with food through their hostel mess.
"We used to come home every year during the annual vacation, which begins in June. Though we have been provided with food and hostel facilities, all of us are anxious about the rising number of coronavirus cases here. Even our relatives back home have approached many authorities, but nothing has happened so far," said Anatta Sobi BC from Thiruvananthapuram.
Meanwhile, a new flight is scheduled on July 9 from Kyrgystan under Phase 3 of Vande Bharat. "Though they have scheduled a flight on July 9, only 149 of us can be travel in it. We have no clarity over the situation of the rest of the students," said another student.
Responding to their plight, Norka roots officials pointed out that a special plan to bring back the students from foreign countries will be arranged soon."Under the new plan, both chartered flights and Vande Bharat flights will be made available to the students. But the students have to bear the expense of the tickets," said the spokesperson.
Despite several attempts by TNIE, V Muraleedharan was unavailable for comments.