New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Declaring that the Congress will bear the rail fare of sending stranded migrant workers back to their hometowns, party president Sonia Gandhi on Monday slammed the Centre and Railway Ministry for asking the stranded migrants to pay for it.

“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,” she said.

“This will be the Indian National Congress’ humble contribution in service of our compatriots and to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them,” Sonia added.  

Cornering the Centre over the issue, Sonia questioned why the Centre cannot bear the cost of train travel of migrant workers when it bring back citizens stranded abroad for free. 

"Despite repeated demands by Congress, central government and Rail Ministry have chosen to ignore migrants' free travel home," she said. 

"It is particularly disturbing that central government, Railways are charging migrants for train tickets in this hour of crisis," the interim president of Congress said.

However, the Ministry of Railways said that it is running Shramik special trains keeping berths empty in each coach to maintain social distancing and they are returning empty from destinations under lock and key, adding that free food and bottled water is being given to the migrants.

"Railways is charging only standard fare for this class from State Governments which is just 15 per cent of the total cost incurred by Railways. Railways is not selling any tickets to migrants and is only boarding passengers based on lists provided by States," ANI quoted Railway Ministry sources as saying.

Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi in her statement noted that lakhs of migrants continue to walk hundreds of kilometres to reach back their homes without food, water, medicines and cash.

She said the Congress has been raising this issue from the outset of the lockdown, but the central government has chosen to ignore it.

Sonia Gandhi said workers and labourers form the backbone of India's economy and their hard work and sacrifice are the foundation of the nation. 

The Congress chief said this is the first time post-partition of 1947 that 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, medicines, money, transportation, without anything except for the desire to return to their families and loved ones.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta