Sikkimese students stranded at Himachal Pradesh appeal to Sikkim govt. for help
There are almost 40 Sikkimese students from Abhilashi University, Chailchowk, Mandi District, stranded in Himachal Pradesh, and have been asking for help from the Sikkimese authorities for them to be allowed back home. The students have had trouble reaching the right officials since there is a lockdown at Himachal Pradesh and the authorities from the institute seem to be oblivious on the status of their students. The students, in light of the ongoing pandemic of novel coronavirus or COVID-19, have written a plea letter to Government of Sikkim.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation at this Tuesday announced that India would go on lockdown from March 25th for 21 days. Just before the P.M.’s announcement, Sikkim was ready for the same starting from the same day but only till the 31st.
“Since we thought that the lockdown was till March 31st in Sikkim, and also because the college only issued a notification for the classes being suspended till the same date, we the students here decided to stay here itself,” Alina Gurung, a student from Abhilashi University states.
She adds, “The institute only issued a notification till the 31st and hasn’t issued any notification after that, and we are now stranded here, most of us live out of the institute privately.”
In the wake of the country being in lockdown and a curfew imposed in Himachal Pradesh since March 16th, several issues have brought about a hiatus in communication and mobility, from families being scared for their children studying outside the state, students being discombobulated on what to do next whilst being far from home and authorities themselves finding it difficult to grab a hold of the situation, it is hard for all these people to be on the same resonance as each other.
“How could we issue a notification when we can’t even reach our offices?” says Kapil Kapoor, registrar of Abhilashi University
“We are aware of the students that are here, we have a designated mentor, a teacher-guardian who is appointed to handle 20 students under their wing. We let the students know about the decisions through them and disperse it through WhatsApp groups. We wanted every student to stay back but most of them went to their homes in their respective states.”
According to the authorities from the university, there are students from all over India studying in the college and most of them have left for their homes except those from Sikkim stranded there, and due to the lockdown and the curfew, authorities have found it difficult to identify the students who are stuck there.
“We have only 12 students in the hostel here, I am residing in the premises as well and we are doing everything to take preventive measures as well as make the students feel comfortable. There are 9 girls and boys from Sikkim in the hostel at the moment, all the others live privately so we cannot keep tabs on them,” says L.K. Abhilashi, Managing Director, Abhilashi University
The students stuck there had originally planned to stay put till the 31st of March but after the Prime Minister’s address and the announcement of the lockdown, these students found themselves in quite a predicament. These 40 students have been appealing to the Government and media to let people know about the predicament they are in, ensuring that they do not have been infected.
“We spoke to Mr Jacob Khaling, he asked us for the list of names of the students stuck here. He told us not to worry and that the Government will arrange something to help us,” says Alina.
Himachal Pradesh government had imposed a curfew on the 16th of March already, and overseeing the orders from the government, the college authorities issued a notification that notified all the students and faculties that the college would remain closed as per government instructions. Abhilashi University (AU) is a private university located in the village Chailchowk, in Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh, India. Since it was in a remote location, Kapil let us know that the factors of risks were significantly lesser in the village area.
“The area here is quite remote, it is a village area but the curfew still holds ground. We have advised the students to contact their mentors if anything goes wrong, but we can find essentials and provisions, like any other place throughout the state” Kapil says.
“We have not found any way to get out of our houses, we are also worried about the children, we had advised them to stay in hostels, or leave for their states. The students who left were only let go after the consensus with their parents. We cannot force the others who stayed back to forcefully leave, but as far as risks go, there aren’t many in this area.”
Though, a clear case of bad luck and worse timing, the students have nevertheless been stranded in times of a global crisis. With the lockdown imposed by the centre, it is perhaps unclear and also confusing for parties of both the states and the centre to know about whom the authority goes to in such a situation. However, the spotlight shines on the students on this matter, many have questioned them for not coming back earlier when they had the chance, but it is only bad timing that had them plunged into this predicament. With assurance through the university staff and also from the home state government, these students can at the least breathe a sigh of relief, for now.
“We have asked the students to take the preventive measures for now and are doing everything in our power to get them into safety, with the lockdown, I do not think they can be able to go home, and we are preventing it, in resonance with the larger threat here. There is only so much we can do, but I hope the students cooperate with us in this time of crisis and stay active on the groups we have designated them to with their mentors,” Kapil states.
This was the case in Himachal where the question arose about how Sikkimese students were studying outside the state. Taking the issue of students stranded out of the states due to lockdown into cognizance, the government of Sikkim took issued a notification in a video format as well as in other media formats across social media. The notification came from S.D. Dhakal, secretary to the Chief Minister of Sikkim, which addressed the students studying outside Sikkim and their guardians that if they were facing any problems could call him in the Chief Minister’s office.
According to the instructions by S.D. Dhakal, the students out of the state under isolation, if facing any problems were to notify the C.M’s office to Dhakal’s number 95933 77890 via WhatsApp. The distressed is to leave a message with the problem along with the name of the student and of their father, their current local address, and the address of where the student is residing out of the state.
“If you contact us with all the details via WhatsApp, we shall contact the right authorities and we will help in any way possible to solve the issues faced by the students as instructed by our Honourable Chief Minister,” notified Dhakal.