The All India Railwaymen's Federation (AIRF) on Thursday wrote a letter to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi asking her to refrain from playing "petty politics" over the fare of Shramik Special trains. AIRF general secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra in his letter requested Sonia Gandhi to not try and 'destabilise' and functioning system for 'short-term political gains'.
Previously, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi had attacked the Central government by saying that if the government can bring back citizens stranded abroad free, why can't it extend the same courtesy of free rail travel to migrants.
Responding to this, the All India Railwaymen's Federation said, "If tickets were made free, there could have been a massive overcrowding of lakhs of migrants on railway stations forcing themselves into trains to reach home and could have resulted in a massive health crisis amid the already ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."
The Indian Railways has been running special trains called as -- Shramik special trains-- for hundreds of stranded migrants, labour workforce, students, pilgrims, tourists amid the lockdown. The migrant labourers will travel free of cost in these trains with the Centre paying 85% and the state government paying 15% of the expenses.
"During this pandemic, over 12 lakh railways workers are risking their lives to arrange essentials for the functioning of the railways," said the All India Railwaymen Federation in their letter. "It's my sincere request to you to not destabilise a good system just for your political gains, a system which is enabling migrants to return home in these 115 special trains," added the AIRF General Secretary.