New Delhi, May 4 : Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday attacked the NDA government for charging the migrants for their train travel back home in the wake of lockdown and said her party will fund their tickets.
Terming 'disturbing' the decision of the NDA government and the Rail Ministry to charge the migrant labourers for train tickets in this hour of crisis, Ms Gandhi, in a statement, said ,'Our workers and labourers are the ambassadors of our nation’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 crore on transport and food etc. for just one public programme in Gujarat, when the Rail Ministry has the largesse to donate Rs 151 crore 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?' Pointing out that the 'barely four hour notice' by the Central government denied an opportunity for the migrant labourers to return to their home states, Ms Gandhi said, 'Central Government barely gave a four-hour notice of the lockdown, workers and migrant labourers were denied the opportunity to return to their homes. 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. The very thought of their plight is enough to break our hearts as there was also the outpouring of support from fellow Indians for their inspiring resolve.'
Even today, she said, lakhs of workers and migrant labourers are languishing in different parts of the country and wish to return to their homes and families but there is neither adequate money nor provision for free transport. What is particularly disturbing is that the Central Government and the Rail Ministry are charging them for train tickets in this hour of crisis, the Congress president said. The Centre and the Railway Ministry had chosen to completely ignore the Congress' repeated demands to help the migrants. 'The Indian National Congress has been raising this issue from the outset of the lockdown. There needs to be provisions for the safe and free rail travel of migrant workers and labourers to their home-towns. However, despite our repeated demands, the Central Government and the Rail Ministry have chosen to completely ignore the same. The Indian National Congress has, therefore, 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,'Ms Gandhi said.
Attacking the government on the issue, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, 'on one hand, the Railways is charging migrant labourers stranded in other states train fare to enable them to return to their homes, on the other hand, it is donating Rs 151 crore to the PM CARES Fund.' The decision of the Central government to charge money from the migrant labourers for their journey back home has been slammed by several opposition parties who have been asking the Centre to bear the cost. (UNI)