Headlines May 5, 2020
Congress party to pay for migrants’ train fare
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has attacked the central government for not giving migrants stranded due to COVID-19 a free train ride home. She said that despite the Rs 151 crore rupees contributed by the Indian Railways to the PM-Cares fund, it was “disturbing” that the Centre could not pay for the migrants to go back home.
In a statement she said that her party would pay for the train fare of migrants who are the backbone of India’s economy and “ambassadors of our nation’s growth”.
In a strongly worded statement, Ms Gandhi said:
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 Gandhi, Congress President
She also said that the Centre barely gave a four-hour notice of the lockdown. This denied workers and migrant labourers the opportunity to return to their homes.
In a statement she said that post the 1947 Partition of India, this is the first time India has seen such a tragedy with a massive cost as thousands of migrant workers and labourers are forced to walk home for several hundred kilometres on foot. “What is particularly disturbing is that the Central Government and the Rail Ministry are charging them for train tickets in this hour of crisis.”
She said that the Indian National Congress would therefore ensure that every state-level Congress committee will bear the cost of the rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer. The government has started running special trains since Friday for migrants to travel to their home states.
State governments have been asked to collect the ticket price from the migrants.
The move has been slammed by several opposition parties who have been asking the Centre to bear the cost.
Lakhs of migrant workers and others were left stranded without jobs, money, food or shelter, far from home after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown on 25 March.
Since then, group of migrants have, in desperation, started journeys on foot or tried other means to reach home.
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