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    Rahul slams Centre for charging rail tickets from migrants

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    New Delhi: Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday slammed the Central government over the reports of the Indian Railways charging for tickets from the migrants and contributing Rs 151 crore in the PMCARE fund to combat the spread of COVID-19 and asked the government to 'solve the puzzle'.

    His remarks came soon after Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi announced that party will bear the charges of rail tickets of migrants stranded across the country amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19.

    In a tweet, Rahul Gandhi said, "On one hand railways is charging for the tickets of the stranded labourers and workers in different states while on the other hand it contributed Rs 151 crore to the PMCARES fund. Solve this puzzle."

    His remarks came amid the reports of migrants being asked to pay for their rail tickets.

    The railways has decided to run the Shramik Special trains to transport the students, labourers, pilgrims and tourists across the country.

    The first Shramik Special train with 1,200 passengers started on May 1 from Telangana to Jharkhand almost 40 days after the passenger, mail and express trains services were suspended.

    Since then railways has operated over 25 such trains on the request of the state governments.

    The railways has earlier said that it was charging the state governments for the Shramik special train tickets.

    The railways also clarified that the Shramik Special trains are meant for "nominated people" identified and registered by state governments and the railways will not issue any tickets to any individual or entertain any request from any groups.

    Earlier in the day, Sonia Gandhi announced that Congress will bear the cost of the train tickets of the labourers and migrants stranded in several parts of the country.

    Sonia Gandhi said, "The Congress has taken a decision that every Pradesh Congress Committee (state unit) 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 Congress' humble contribution in service of our compatriots and to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them," she said in a statement.

    Following the announcement of nationwide lockdown, thousands of labourers were left stranded in different cities. Many labourers walked over hundred of kilometers to reach their home as interstate bus services and train services were suspended since March 24.

    The lockdown has been extended twice, first by 19 days till May 3 and then for two more weeks till May 17 to combat COVID-19.

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