It's been over a month since India, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been under a nationwide lockdown. 

And in these trying times, India's migrant workers and daily wagers have been the worst hit, with no savings to fall back on, no shelter left in the cities they migrated to, and no means to head home. Until now.  

After months of workers adopting extreme measures, which, in some unfortunate cases, even led to their death, the government announced that railway and buses will travel between states to help migrant workers head home. 

Train passengers under lockdown
Source: Rediff

It was a welcome move, by one and all, and workers headed to stations and bus depots, with a glimmer of hope in their eyes - only to watch it crumble as they were asked to shell money for the tickets. 

Shramik Train Fares
Source: Twitter/Migrant Workers Solidarity

Migrant workers were left to borrow money, dig into their meager savings, and scramble for cash, all in the hope of returning home. 

This, after weeks of being stranded in a city they traveled to for work, but that soon left them without a roof on their head and no means of earning money. 

Migrant workers in India
Source: Aljazeera

Do these migrant workers, who currently have no income and little hope of finding a job soon, not deserve the 'support' that led to the setting up of the PM Cares Fund?

stranded workers
Source: ET

Shramik Special, the train being run especially to transport migrant workers, is charging ₹50 in addition to the ticket fare per person. 

In Kerala, the migrant workers had to pay ₹875 for a journey, with the state government paying for two hot meals through IRCTC. 

In Bengaluru, the migrant workers, who have been without a job for weeks now, were initially forced to pay double the price until finally, the state government intervened. 

In this situation, this question begs to be asked - where are the funds for Covid-19 relief being allocated? 

Is a flower shower really the best use of funds at a time when a migrant worker is struggling to collect enough money to head home to a house dependent on his/her now absent earnings?

India was one of the first countries to evacuate its citizens from global Covid-19 hotspots, free of cost. 

Air India
Source: Business Line (Representational Photo)

But migrant workers have to pay for their way home? Are migrant workers not citizens of India that the government is elected to serve and provide for?

Covid Testing on platforms
Source: Deccan Herald

This is certainly not the first time that the government has displayed blatant discrimination in the way it has treated its citizens. And the basis for this discrimination remains class difference, and class difference alone. 

Migrant workers had to travel thousands of kilometers on foot, pedal, swim, and even hide in trucks and concrete mixers, to find their way home before the government took any action. 

Migrant workers in India
Source: The Federal

And now it appears that the 'helping hand' the government extended, came at a cost, literally.