Amidst the raging controversy that Railways is charging stranded migrant workers for the tickets, government sources on Monday clarified that the Railways is only dealing with the state government and not charging anything from the passengers.
According to multiple reports, while most state governments have paid for the travel of migrant workers from the state exchequer, Kerala, Rajasthan and Maharashtra remain the only three states to have charged the migrant workers for their travel back to their native place.
As per PTI, Maharashtra state minister Nitin Raut has written a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urging him to bear the travel cost of migrants leaving the state. He also wrote to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday, requesting that the railways bear the cost of transportation of migrants from the state.
In addition to this, a report by Times Now claims that besides Maharashtra, Kerala and Rajasthan have also asked the migrants to pay for the railway tickets.
It is pertinent to note that in two of three states- Kerala, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Congress is in the government. Rajasthan is ruled by the Congress party while Maharashtra is presided over by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government-a coalition of Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress party. Earlier today, it was the Congress party which promised to bear the cost of the railway tickets of the migrant workers while its own state governments are found guilty of charging railways fares from the migrants.
Congress promises to bear the non-existent cost of railways tickets even as Railways denies rumours of travel fare to be paid by migrants
A controversy erupted on Monday after several opposition parties, most notably Congress, stoked the unfounded rumours that the railways is charging migrant workers for the tickets. In fact, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi even declared that her party will be bearing the non-existent cost of the railway tickets of the migrants. Railways had issued a clarification that it is not charging any money from the migrants.
The rumour regarding the central government levying charges on the migrant workers was based on a fallacious report published in ‘The Hindu’ that said railways is charging extra money from stranded migrants to travel in special trains. After the confusion seeded by The Hindu’s report gained traction, senior ministry officials clarified that the passengers will not be paying for the tickets. “As these are not regular trains, but special trains which will run on the request of state government, there is no provision to buy tickets for those trains. The respective state governments will book the trains by making the payment as charged by the Indian Railways, and the passengers do not have to pay anything,” one of the officials said.
However, Congress leaders took advantage of the confusion to score political brownie points. Several of the Congress leaders today took to Twitter to claim that since the government is charging money for the railway fare of the stranded migrants going back home on Shramik Special trains, the party will chip in and bear the expenses for the same. This offer to pay for the migrants’ fare came two days after the Railway Ministry had clarified that the state and central governments are facilitating the movement of migrants through Shramik Special trains.