Recently, it was announced by the government that migrant workers will be allowed to travel back home through special trains.
However, reports of the central government charging migrant workers for the train fare also emerged.
Lockdown: 'Shramik Special' train fare includes cost of sleeper class ticket, superfast charge of Rs 30 and Rs 20 for meals, water— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) May 1, 2020
Point 11 of ltr frm Ministry of Railways re movement of stranded persons by Shramik Special trains clearly says “local state govt authority shall hand ovr tkts 2 passengers & collect d fare & hand ovr total amt 2 Railways”@srivatsayb @srinivasiyc @GauravPandhi @SpiritOfCongres pic.twitter.com/wKycTkhiNI— Mimi Vin (@VMimi09) May 4, 2020
Some of the states’ governments are bearing either the complete or partial cost of the train fare. But in some cases, migrant workers, with little to no savings, had to bear the cost on their own.
Migrant workers arriving at T’puram railway station…circles marked for social distancing…food kits for two meals will be provided …for remaining meals #kerala to pay for hot meals through IRCTC for the migrants till Migrants have paid 875rs /ticket for #Jharkhand @ndtv pic.twitter.com/uxM8ySPnVD— Sneha Koshy (@SnehaMKoshy) May 2, 2020
Now, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has announced in an official statement that ‘every Pradesh Congress committee will bear the cost of rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer.’
Statement Of Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi— Congress (@INCIndia) May 4, 2020
The Indian National Congress has
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 pic.twitter.com/kxruKa0xgI
In the statement, Sonia Gandhi also called out the government for not providing ‘adequate money or provision for free transport’ while stating that ‘workers and labourers are the ambassadors of nation’s growth’.
When Rail Ministry has the largesse to donate ₹151cr to 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?: Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi#CongressForIndia pic.twitter.com/geoddH8WxR— Congress (@INCIndia) May 4, 2020
The government faced a lot of flak from the internet and the opposition for charging migrant workers for the train fares. Consequently, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra responded via social media:
Rahul Gandhi ji,— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) May 4, 2020
I have attached guidelines of MHA which clearly states that “No tickets to be sold at any station”
Railways has subsidised 85% & State govt to pay 15%
The State govt can pay for the tickets(Madhya Pradesh’s BJP govt is paying)
Ask Cong state govts to follow suit https://t.co/Hc9pQzy8kQ pic.twitter.com/2RIAMyQyjs
And this is how the Congress ruled State Governments can pay the 15% for the Migrant workers (85% being taken care of by the Railways) rather than politicising the otherwise smooth process taken up by the railways. https://t.co/Axtmen5nY9 pic.twitter.com/RNQdcfNBvB— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) May 4, 2020
Many people took to Twitter to comment on the same:
While the Modi govt siphons off money from Indian Railways through @PiyushGoyal, the Congress President has come to the aid of fellow Indians & said that @INCIndia will pay the train fare of all migrant workers.— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) May 4, 2020
We know Modi has no empathy. Only wish he had an iota of shame. https://t.co/lpions4bKR
What a shame for the government that they taken money in the name of PM cares fund and even after that money is being taken from the poor laborers.— Riyaj Ahmad (@ahmadriyaj04) May 4, 2020
Now the @INCIndia congress decided to pay the rail travel fare of migrant workers. This is Great.@RahulGandhi#SoniaGandhi
Happy that migrant workers get to travel for free @IRCTCofficial. Not to politicise but @BJP4India I’ll count this as a strategic win for @INCIndia and my opinion about them might have improved a little.— Siddharth (@DarthSidious07) May 4, 2020
Anything that follows will be considered damage control https://t.co/DbjCo2fT2U
Excellent gesture by #SoniaGandhi to ask Congress units to bear the travel costs of migrant workers.— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) May 4, 2020
Surprised that BJP didn’t think of this considering how good they are at distributing tickets.
Very unfortunate that railway is charging fare from migrant workers. If railway alone is not capable of bearing such expenses then respective state govt should come forward. Clearly a case of mismanagement and in no time matter would be politicised.Score @INCIndia 1-0 @BJP4India https://t.co/bj6L51vwb7— राम बिश्नोई (@rnb_acivilengg) May 4, 2020
Huge amount collected by prime minister Narendra Modi in #PMCaresFunds, but railway still charged from migrant workers ? This reflects modi’s so called “सबका विकास”@INCIndia not in power, sill “Sonia Gandhi” decided to pay charges of migrant workers.— Raghuram Fan : Ayaaz Qaasimi (@Ayaz_Ind) May 4, 2020
Appreciable “सोनिया गांधी” pic.twitter.com/Qd6PHINQZ4
The lockdown, which was supposed to end on May 03, has been extended for two more weeks.