By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Main Opposition Congress on Saturday demanded that Railways Minister Piyush Goyal should sack for the death of more than 80 migrant workers on special trains and their untold suffering during travels. Releasing a report card on the completion of Modi government’s six years in office, Congress said instead of healing the people it inflicted wounds on them.
Addressing a press conference via video conferencing, senior party leaders KC Venugopal and Randeep Singh Surjewala said the end of six Long Years; it appears that the Modi Government is at war with its people, inflicting wounds instead of healing them.
“It is somewhat surprising that they (Modi Govt) still haven’t grasped the most fundamental lesson of governance in a democracy. Not to divide, mislead and distract. The sooner this Government realizes that the better it will be for the nation and for their own place in its history.”
Reacting to ruling BJP president claims on the government’s “achievements”, Surjewala asked him to sack Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister and railway minister for PPE Kits Scam and death of migrant workers respectively.
When he was asked who should be blamed for the death of more than 80 migrants on special trains? He said that Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal must be held Responsible for the agony and deaths of hapless passengers and should be sacked.
“If more than 80 workers including women and children have been died during the journey in these trains. For this, none other than Piyush Goyal is responsible? For the first time in the history of Indian Railways, 40 trains lost their destinations. After 5–5 days, people on board were remained hungry-thirsty, without water, without bread and they barely reached their house. 40 trains took 5, 6 days to reach their destinations. Does it not the responsibility of the minister to provide facilities to passengers of these trains?”
He said the Minister’s callous attitude and mismanagement of the railways only 4 to 5 million workers out of 80 millions got back home through these trains. Who is responsible for this mess, Modi and Goyal, he added.
According to the data from the Railway Protection Force, nearly 80 migrant workers died of starvation or heat sickness between May 9 and May 27 while travelling on special trains to their home villages amid the lockdown to contain the coronavirus.
Out of these, 18 deaths occurred in the North Eastern Railway zone, 19 in North Central zone and 13 in East Coast Railway zone. Nearly 80% of the special trains falling in these zones were destined for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Some of those who died were as young as 4-years-old. The list also mentions the co-morbidities or accidents that caused the deaths in a few cases. Special trains were started on May 1 by the railway ministry, but the data from May 1 to May 8 was not available.
The whole world witnessed a vey poignant scene at the Muzaffarpur railway station in Bihar where a toddler is trying to wake up his dead mother. This heart-wrenching visual reflected the callous attitude of the railways. The woman died of extreme heat, hunger and dehydration who arrived in Bihar from Gujarat in a special train to transport migrant workers. . Her family told the television channels that she had been unwell on the train due to lack of food and water.