It's been over two years that Burundi national Yannick Nihangaza has been lying in a vegetative state in India, where he had come to pursue higher studies. However, the Punjab government has finally decided to bear the cost of flying Yannick back to his country in an air ambulance.
On 22 April 2012, the 24-year-old, who was pursuing a Bachelor's in Computer Science from Lovely Professional University (LPU), was attacked by nine youngsters in Jalandhar, in what is believed to be a racially provacated ambush. Yannick was brutally beaten up and left for dead.
The attack left Yannick in a comatose state, and it is understood that the youngster has no chance of ever making it back to a normal life. The incident drew only minor attention in the country. But following pressure from the international community, the Punjab government arrested seven of the nine accused youth, who wer sentenced to a 10-year prison term.
For the last two years, Yannick's father Nestor Ntibateganya has been requesting the Indian government to help him take his son home. After repeated petitions, the Punjab government has now arranged an air ambulance to shift him back to his home in Bujumbura, Burundi's capital city.
Nestor, a 60-year-old economist, has been living in India for the past two years, looking after his son. During this period, he met several politicians in Punjab, trying to get their help in getting his son home.
The father let out his anguish in a heart-warming letter, published by Hindustan Times.
"I sent my son to this country to study. He was a harmless, great child and outstanding student who was constantly busy learning the skills needed for his future... He was not out on the street to learn how to kill, steal or do other kind of evil like that done to him by these killers who are the citizens of your great nation," Nestor had written to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on 20 June 2012.
"I am writing to you as a father writing to another father, someone who has known and experienced love of a child and has given care and love to other human beings like you."
And Badal has now decided to bear the expenses to send Yannick home (estimated around Rs 75 lakh).
Yannick has been lying in coma at a Patiala-based private hospital. His brain is severely damaged, and there is very little scope that he will ever walk again.
"It is good that the government has finally agreed to shift my son and hope that when it materializes, it happens safely as Yannick is too weak," TOI quoted Nestor.
Though a final date has not yet been finalised, Yannick is expected to be flown to Brumic Medical and Research Centre, Burundi, in the next few days.