Anger boils over after Karnataka cancels special trains for migrants

The decision of the State Government to suddenly cancel the trains, that were planned to be run from Wednesday for the benefit of migrants, has drawn angry responses from different quarters.

Published: 07th May 2020 06:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th May 2020 06:03 AM   |  A+A-

Desperate labourers set out on foot for their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh from Bengaluru on Wednesday evening after trains, which were scheduled to ferry migrant workers to their respective states, were cancelled | PANDARINATH B

By Express News Service

 BENGALURU: The decision of the State Government to suddenly cancel the trains, that were planned to be run from Wednesday for the benefit of migrants, has drawn angry responses from different quarters. “We do not have a roof over our heads as our owners want us to vacate. The police tell us not to come on to the streets. We have neither money nor food. And we are not even allowed to go back to our native villages. How will we live?” questioned Suhail Das, a migrant labourer who worked as a plumber in the city.

“This is unfair on part of the state and the railways to suddenly stop special trains, as we have been waiting for over 40 days to return to our native place, as we have no jobs or money in make-shift relief camps in this sweltering heat,” said a disheartened Saroj Kumar (35) who hails from Sitapur near Lucknow. However, dismissing allegations that the special trains were cancelled owing to pressure from the real estate lobby, Kishore Jain of CREDAI said, “We had met the Chief Minister to seek some relief and concessions for our industry.

The issue has been blown out of proportion. We are not behind any move to make workers suffer,” he said. FKCCI president C R Janaradhana told TNIE, “The entire economy of the state will come to a standstill if these workers go out. Industries were shut for nearly 40 days and are just opening up. The contractors who hired them could not make payments to them because of the lockdown, which caused them suffering.”

Industry denies charges

Meanwhile, the move to hold back the migrant worker population was criticised by many, specially since the announcement came on the back of a meeting of representatives from the realty sector with the government authorities.

Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya’s tweet on the cancellation of the trains only made matters worse for the government. “Stoppage of inter-state trains is a bold and necessary move. It will help migrant labourers who came here with hope of a better life to restart their dreams. Also, it will kick-start economic activities full throttle. Karnataka will emerge out of this stronger!”, he wrote. 

This evoked sharp responses with many taking to social media to vent their ire. Vinay Sreenivasa, who works for the rights of workers in the unorganised sector said the ‘bold move’ is violative of Article 23 of the Constitution. Writer Sharada Ramanathan lashed out at the comment saying that “the MP in a democracy does not understand what bonded labour is”.A trade union has decided to take the matter to court.

K’taka govt withdraws request for migrant trains 
The state government has withdrawn its request to the Railways to run special trains to ferry migrant labourers. The decision came hours after the CM on Tuesday appealed to the workers to stay in the state.


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