New Delhi: ‘The Congress party would bear the cost for the rail travel of migrant workers and labourers’, the grand old party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi said on Monday. Hitting out at the Narendra Modi-led government for asking the migrants to pay for their train travel, Sonia asserted that the Centre barely gave a four-hour notice of the lockdown, so workers and migrant labourers were denied the opportunity to return to their homes. Also Read - 'Unlock 1': Thermal Screening at Entrance, No Physical Offering | Here's SOP For Religious Places Ahead of Opening on June 8
Terming the situation as a “tragedy with such a massive human cost”, Sonia, in a letter today said,”The Indian National Congress has taken a decision that every Pradesh Congress Committee shall bear the cost for the rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer and shall take necessary steps in this regard. This will be the Indian National Congress’ humble contribution in service of our compatriots and to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them.” Also Read - 'Unlock 1': '6-ft Distance, Masks, Aarogya Setu App Mandatory For Employees,' Centre Issues SOP For Workplace
She called the workers and labourers the ambassadors of India’s growth. “When our Government can recognise its responsibility by arranging free air travel for our citizens stranded abroad, when the Government can spend nearly Rs. 100 crores on transport and food etc. for just one public programme in Gujarat, when the Rail Ministry has the largesse to donate Rs. 151 Crores to the PM’s Corona fund, then why can’t these essential members of our nation’s fabric be given a fraction of the same courtesy, especially free rail travel, at this hour of acute distress?”, she said. Also Read - 'Laddoo Ke Paise Wapis de': Twitter Calls Chhota Bheem 'Gold Digger' And 'Player' After he Ditches Chutki to Marry Indumati, Trends #JusticeForChutki
Upping the ante against the government further, she added,”Post the partition of 1947, this is the first time India witnessed a tragedy with such a massive human cost as thousands of migrant workers and labourers were forced to walk home several hundred kilometres on foot – without food, without medicines, without money, without transportation, without anything except for the desire to return to their families and loved ones.”
Notably, Sonia’s remarks come after the reports claimed that the migrants were being charged for their travel by trains to their respective states.
The railways, however, had said that it was charging the state governments for the Shramik special train tickets. It had also clarified that the Shramik Special trains are meant for “nominated people” identified and registered by state governments and the railways will not issue any tickets to any individual or entertain any request from any groups.
The railways has started to run the Shramik Special trains for transporting the labourers from May 1, almost 40 days after the passenger, mail and Express trains services were suspended. Till now the national transporter has run over a dozen of Shramik Special trains on the request of the state governments to ferry the migrant labourers.