Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on Monday said that her party will bear the cost for rail travel of every needy migrant worker and labourer to their respective home towns during the lockdown.
She said that Congress had taken the decision as the Centre and Rail Ministry had completely ignored party's repeated requests to ensure provisions of "safe and free rail travel of migrant workers and labourers to their home-towns."
"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. This will be the Indian National Congress' humble contribution in service of our compatriots and to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them," a statement issued by the Congress interim President read.
She stressed upon the importance of workers terming them "ambassadors of our nation's growth" and alleged "when the Rail Ministry has the largesse to donate Rs. 151 Crores to the PM's Corona fund, then why can't these essential members of our nation's fabric be given a fraction of the same courtesy, especially free rail travel, at this hour of acute distress?"
"Our workers and labourers form the backbone of our economy. Their hard work andsacrifice are the foundation of our nation," the statement read.
She equated the lockdown phase with that of post-partition and said, "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."
On March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a 21-day lockdown as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was later extended till May 3 and then for another two weeks till May 17.
In an order issued on May 1, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) allowed the movement of migrant workers, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places through special trains.