Destitute migrant workers in India forced to pay train fares home

Migrant labourers in Indian cities whose incomes have plummeted as a result of anti-coronavirus lockdown measures have been told that they will have to pay to board special trains taking them back to their homes in the countryside.

The decision has prompted derision in India, where most labourers live off what they earn in a day and have been surviving on state handouts. … Since the lockdown was imposed on 25 March, an estimated 10 million labourers have been trapped in the company of strangers in cities across India, with no work or income and a long way from the comfort of home and family.

Opposition politicians reacted with incredulity to the train fare. The National Conference leader, Omar Abdullah, tweeted: “If you are stuck abroad… the government will fly you back for free, but if you are a migrant worker stranded in another state, be prepared to cough up the money for the cost of travel.” The Samajwadi party leader, Akhilesh Yadav, called the decision “highly shameful”.

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