Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Monday hit out at the Central government for charging migrant workers for rail travel during the COVID-19 lockdown. Taking to Twitter, he said that the government arranged 'special planes' to bring back Indians stranded abroad, will conduct Coronavirus tests for the economically weaker category of citizens but will charge migrants on their way home in busses and trains. "Shame on you! PM (CARES) has at least Rs 6500 cr," Sibal claimed while asking does the PM care?
Government pays for :— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) May 4, 2020
Special planes to bring back Indians stranded abroad
Coronavirus tests for ews category of citizens
Will charge migrants on their way home in busses and trains
Shame on you !
PM( CARES ) has at least ₹6500cr
Does he care ?
Sibal's attack comes after many BJP leaders and the Railways clarified that it is not charging anything from the migrant labourers. The Railways is charging only the standard fare from the state government, which is just 15% of the total cost incurred by them, Railway ministry sources were quoted by news agency ANI as saying on Monday.
"Indian Railways is running 'Shramik' special trains keeping berths empty in each coach to maintain social distancing. The trains are returning empty from destinations under lock and key. Free food and bottled water are being given to migrants by railways," sources said. It is not selling any tickets to migrants and is only boarding passengers based on lists provided by states, the sources added.
The sources further said that railways are "fulfilling its social responsibility of providing safe and convenient travel especially to the poorest of the poor in a time of crisis."
Earlier in the day, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said that he spoke to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal's Office regarding the Railways decision to charge for tickets for operating special trains for stranded migrant workers amid Coronavirus lockdown. Swamy said that the Migrant labourers will travel free of cost as the government will pay 85% and the state government will pay 15% of the expenses. He added that the Ministry will clarify with an official statement.
Talked Piyush Goel office. Govt will pay 85% and State Govt 15% . Migrant labour will go free. Ministry will clarify with an official statement— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) May 4, 2020
Before that, Sonia Gandhi in a statement announced that the party 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. She added that this will be the Congress’ "humble contribution in service of our compatriots" and to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them.
Sonia Gandhi also 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.
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
(With agency inputs)