Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday attacked the Centre for charging migrants for their train ride home in the wake of coronavirus lockdown and declared that the Congress will bear the cost for the rail travel.
In a statement she said, “Our workers and labourers form the backbone of our economy. Their hard work and sacrifice are the foundation of our nation.”
“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,” Sonia said.
“But what is the responsibility of our Government? Even today, 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.” Sonia asked.
“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 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?” Sonia questioned.
The Congress President said 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.
“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,” she said.
Sonia said the Congress has been raising this issue from the outset of the lockdown and sought 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,” she added.