As Modi government announced an unplanned lockdown, many migrant labourers were stuck in different states without any food or shelter. Central Government first ignored their demands but later had to give in to the pressure from the opposition parties, especially Congress.
It is shameful that the migrants returning home after months in an impoverished state were charged the train fare. Many migrant labourers returning home to Jharkhand are spending their last bit of savings to pay train fares during the lockdown, the Centre’s resolve to reimburse their fare to the State governments is hitting coordination hurdles.
Around 1,200 labourers, who on Wednesday reached Hatia (Ranchi) from Kerala had to pay Rs 830 each for tickets.
Around 1,200 more who reached Dhanbad from Surat in Gujarat also said they paid Rs 715 each to an NGO for the tickets.
Five weeks after the lockdown, with the government finally permitting movement for a limited set of stranded migrants, it wants to charge them money to do so.
Government is now denying charges that migrants were charged money as special trains and buses were organised for the movement of those stranded, but the Indian Railways made it very clear in a May 2 order that the tickets would be printed and handed to state governments, which would then collect the ticket fare from the passengers and hand this to the Railways.
Congress national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has sought the names of migrant workers returning to Amethi and Raebareli so that her party could pay for their train fare.
Priyanka Gandhi has asked the administration of Amethi and Rae Bareli through a tweet to give her the list of migrant workers returning to the two districts from different parts of the country so that her party could pay for their fare, the spokesperson for the Congress’ district unit said.
Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee President Ajay Kumar Lallu and Congress Legislature Party leader Aradhna Mishra said their party wanted to pay migrant labourers the rail fare charged from them and had requested the government to provide a list of such labourers who had returned from other states but there was no response from the state government.
However, the gesture did not go unnoticed as Shiv Sena praised Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s decision to bear the cost of the train fare of migrant workers returning home. Workers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh migrate mostly to Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Shiv Sena said that till yesterday, these workers were the vote bank of political parties and leaders, as Mumbai and Maharashtra have been built on the hard work of these migrant workers. These people are running away in times of crisis and their political mentors have turned them away.
Apart from charging the fare from the impoverished migrant workers, several State Governments have declared they will not take migrant workers who have not got their Coronavirus tests done. Shiv Sena criticised those states, terming it a “cruel and inhuman” stand.
It also criticised the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government, saying it brought back students from Kota in Rajasthan without any testing “since they were rich”, while train fares were charged from the poor.
This shows that Indian government has deceived and betrayed the labourers, the labourers who have constructed Indian economy brick by brick.