DELHI: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday attacked the government for charging train tickets from migrant labourers going back to their homes and announced that her party will bear the cost for the rail travel of all such workers stranded due to the coronavirus lockdown.

In a statement, she said it is disturbing that the central government and the rail ministry are charging them for train tickets in this hour of crisis.
“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,” Gandhi said.

Referring to the “Namaste Trump” event in Ahmedabad on February 24, Gandhi said when the government could spend nearly Rs 100 crore on transport and food for just one public programme in Gujarat, arrange free air travel for Indians stranded abroad and when the rail ministry has the largesse to donate Rs 151 crore to the PM’s Corona fund why can’t free rail travel be provided to migrant workers at this hour of acute distress.The centre, she said, 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 wrote.
Even today, said the Congress president, lakhs of workers and migrant labourers were “languishing in different parts of the country” and wished to return to their homes and families but didn’t have money or free transport.

Indian National Congress took to their twitter handle to confirm this news in which they stated that” According to the statement of Mrs Sonia Gandhi
The Indian National Congress has decided that working office of the every State Congress Committee will bear the expenditure of tickets fare for every migrant worker who wishes to come back to his/ her family and take all necessary steps regarding this.”

She said the centre and the railway’s ministry had chosen to completely ignore Congress’s repeated demands to help the migrants.
“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,” she said.

As the countrywide lockdown to combat the coronavirus was extended for another two weeks, the government 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 local government authorities shall handover the tickets to the passengers cleared by them and collect the ticket fare and handover the total amount to the railways,” the Railways Ministry said in a circular 
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 March 25. Since then, the group of migrants have, in desperation, started journeys on foot or tried other means to reach home.