Karnataka cancels special trains for migrants

Published : May 06, 2020 17:02 IST

Migrants on their arrival from Karnataka by a Shramik Special train at Danapur railway station in Patna district of Bihar, on May 6. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

In a move that is being severely criticised, the Karnataka government cancelled special trains that were to ferry migrant workers back to their native States from Bengaluru. In a letter to the general manager of South Western Railways on Tuesday, N. Manjunatha Prasad, nodal officer for migrants’ welfare and Principal Secretary in the Revenue Department, stated that “since the train services are not required from tomorrow the letter cited under reference above is withdrawn’. The earlier letter pertained to instructions to run “two train services every day for 5 days” from Bengaluru to Bihar. The trains that have left Bengaluru till now each had between 1,000 and 1,200 passengers on board.

While no reason has been stated for the cancellation of the trains, government sources revealed that the decision came after Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa met members of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) on Tuesday who expressed their concern that with workers leaving en masse, it would be impossible to restart construction activities in Bengaluru. After the meeting, Yediyurappa appealed to the labourers to stay put and “avoid unnecessary travel back to their natives”.

Meanwhile, the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) has moved the Karnataka High Court challenging the State government’s decision to cancel the special trains. Stating that this was violative of Article 19 (1) (d) of the Constitution (right “to move freely throughout the territory of India”) the petition prayed that the High Court would pass an appropriate order to the government to “provide free and safe transport from various parts of Karnataka, by train, for inter-State migrant workers up to their home States”.

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