After an eight-hours journey, 57 Bhutanese students studying in Government College (GC) and seven studying in Rockvale in Kalimpong, West Bengal were safely escorted to Phuentsholing at 9:30pm yesterday.
A Bhutanese woman working in Kalimpong was also brought back to the country along with the students.
There are still eight Bhutanese students in Kalimpong who are sitting exams.
An official from the drungkhag office along with Phuentsholing superintendent of police had started their journey from Phuentsholing early morning yesterday with police officials and counterparts from across the border. From Kalimpong, students were first taken to Silliguri and transferred to Phuentsholing.
Director of the Department of Law and Order (DLO), Tashi Penjore, along with officials from the drungkhag and Phuentsholing RBP, received the students.
Tashi Penjore said the escort was made possible with assistance from the Indian counterparts.
“We have been in touch with them on a daily basis,” he said, explaining the security for the escort was arranged as and when required.
The students who arrived yesterday had finished their examinations.
“Even if students were safe, they would have faced ration supply shortage,” the director said.
DLO director added: “His Majesty the King is really concerned about the safety of the students. We were commanded to help the students.”
A second-year student, Lhazin Dema, said she felt relieved.
“Situation was not very good there,” she said. Ration was the main problem. Students adjusted by requesting house owners and store owners.
Sonam, another college student, said they remained indoors most of the time.
Student president Namgay Dorji said managing ration, especially vegetables, was difficult.
“Now students know how peaceful our country is,” he said.
Meanwhile, there are seven students left in Darjeeling. All are at Saint Joseph College.
“Currently they are all safe,” Tashi Penjore said.
Darjeeling students will finish their examinations by June 30.
If the situation does not improve when the exams are over, the remaining students from both Darjeeling and Kalimpong will be escorted back home.
“As long as students do not come out, they will be safe,” Tashi Penjore said.
Officials from the DLO advised parents to carefully study the situation before sending their children back to school.
Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing