After spending uncertain, scary days of lockdown in Kota, it’s a relief to be back home in Bengal

I went to Rajasthan’s Kota in April 2019 after completing my Class 12 examinations in West Bengal’s Karandighi of North Dinajpur district. I study at Allen Career Institute in Kota to prepare myself for medical entrance exams. There, I stay with some roommates in a rented accommodation in Indra Vihar near Rajiv Gandhi Nagar.

Things were going fine until Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) changed the situation drastically. Classes were suspended, exams were shelved and suddenly, though we found ourselves relieved of the pressure of exams, there was a different kind of stress.

Many of us became somewhat depressed due to the new situation we found ourselves in. We were tense at the same time as our studies were being seriously hampered.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases started increasing in and around Kota. That became another worry for us. For the time being, we forgot about studies and became more concerned about our lives. People around were scared.

We were not allowed to go out of the house where we lived as the nationwide lockdown had already started. The main gate remained locked throughout the day from outside. Food delivery was virtually stopped as people who used to cook food for various paying guest facilities and rented accommodations in the area had left for their homes before the lockdown started.

The unavailability of food had become a major problem not only for us, but for everyone who stayed in rented places. In some hostels, people were even starving. Luckily, our institute took the responsibility of reaching food to us twice daily. Though the delivery of food was sometimes late, it was understandable. With each passing day, such problems grew. We had to wait for food. We couldn’t go out either to buy food. Arranging for raw ingredients and beginning to cook also involved a lot of paraphernalia as we were not prepared for such a situation. But we had no choice except to try and adjust.

We tried contacting West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee several times through Twitter initially. We also contacted her office at the phone numbers provided on the government website. We narrated our situation to the officials. However, it was not clear whether we would be able to get back home. Those among us who were from states like Madhya Pradesh or Uttar Pradesh among others, had left for their homes. Their states had taken them back early perhaps it was easier for them to move as they were closer to Rajasthan than us. With them leaving, the building started feeling empty. Students from Bihar, Assam and West Bengal were the only ones left.

Meanwhile, we learnt that the West Bengal government had discussed the matter with the Rajasthan administration to arrange for our journey and that Bengal would bear all expenses. Finally, on Wednesday, we boarded buses from Kota at 3 pm for Bengal. Each of us was screened with thermal guns before boarding the buses. In each bus, there were 18 to 20 of us quite a distance from each other.

On the first night of our journey though, there was a bit of difficulty in getting food for dinner as most shops were closed. However, our institute had provided us with food for the night, so it was not really a problem. From the next day though, we didn’t have any difficulty in getting food or anything else and everything was just fine. Our needs were taken care of by Bengal government officials on the way home.

Food was usually provided to us inside the bus. At one place, arrangements were made inside a school compound which was closed due to lockdown.

Waiting for food at the school


The buses were stopped at the Bihar border where security forces wouldn’t allow us to cross the border. They were saying that inter-state movement was illegal during lockdown. They didn’t want to believe that the government had arranged for our travel. The matter escalated quickly and we started having a heated exchange with them. We challenged them to say the things they were saying on video. The matter was later resolved after the authorities from West Bengal intervened.

We reached Siliguri at around 2.30 pm on Friday. There, we were screened again for COVID-19 in separate booths meant for respective districts. After testing, we boarded buses again and left the place.

It was such a relief to reach home finally. It seems like the nightmare is finally over. Back home, all of us – who have travelled in the buses from Kota to West Bengal – are now under compulsory home quarantine for 14 days and are being monitored by the state government authorities.

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