Empathy in the country has gone for a toss as the authorities continue to break the back of poor migrant labourers a recent example of which are the local authorities in Andhra Pradesh who offered to provide bus serices only if Kashmiri labourers paid a hefty Rs 1.82 lakh for the ride till the railway station in Hyderabad. With tall claims from the government assuring that the labourers are finally being sent home through buses and trains free of any ticket charges, the local authorities in Andhra Pradesh informed the Kashmiri labourers that they can finally board a train from Hyderabad while leaving to make their own arrangements. Also Read - Sonu Sood Meets Maharashtra Governor, Gets Full Support From Govt in His 'Ghar Bhejo' Initiative
As per a report in India Today, the authorities offered to provide bus services to the Kashmiri migrants for the journey of 436 kilometres to Hyderabad from Puttaparthy, only if they coughed up the hefty amount. To ensure social distancing between the group of Kashmiris, three buses were mandated which turned out to be a costlier affair. Also Read - India to be Renamed 'Bharat'? Twitter Uses Harpic as Eyedrop to Undo Watching News, Asks Supreme Court to Sort Priorities Amid COVID-19 And Migrant Crisis
In an interview with India Today, Sheikh Tariq, a Kashmiri shawl and cloth seller revealed, “The government makes tall claims that labourers are being sent free of cost. We were asked to pay Rs 65,000 each for three buses, charging us for the onward and return journey.” Also Read - Mahila Congress to Distribute 25 Lakh Sanitary Napkins For Migrant Workers' Use in Shramik Special Trains
Moved by their plight, two influential businessmen brothers – Ram and Laxman Rao, requested the authorities to at least waive off Rs 30,000. Owners of several shops of gold, real estate and petrol pumps in Andhra Pradesh, the Rao twins reportedly pleaded their case with the local administration and MLA. They decided to help the labourers by themselves after the authorities would not budge.
Laxman said, “We have known the Kashmiris who stay in our locality for 20 years. They are our brothers. We tried pleading with the authorities but seeing their lackadaisical response, we decided to loan them Rs 1.82 lakh, so that they can go home.” The brothers loaned the sum so that the Kashmiri families could go home.
Lending cash from his own petrol pump, Laxman added, “We have been assured that the money will be returned. But even if they are not able to, we will think, we have done a social service. I have been to Jammu and Kashmir four times since 2014 and Kashmiris have been hospitable to us.”
Hoping to catch the train from Hyderababad to Udhampur, the Kashmiri labourers were touched by the prompt help. Tariq shared, “We were miserable till Rao brothers helped us. We hope we can make it home.”
Intrestingly, the hefty amount by the local authorities was charged despite Andhra Pradesh CM instructing officials on May 16, to resume intrastate bus services for the walking migrant workers with stringent SOPs. In a review meeting at the Tadepalli Camp office on last Saturday, the CM had said, “If anyone declares himself/herself as a migrant labour, nobody should insist on them paying for the travel. The migrant workers can avail the service for free.”
On another note, it is heartening to see that all humanity is not lost even as a lot of people go around making profits amid the pandemic, filled with apathy! May there be more Rams and Laxmans to uplift humanity in dire times.