Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said that the Centre was not receiving the expected support from the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government to help stranded migrant workers reach the state, PTI reported. The Centre has long been accusing the state government for its handling of the coronavirus situation.
“The West Bengal government is not allowing trains with migrant workers to reach the state that may further create hardship for labourers,” the Union minister wrote, adding that it was “injustice” to the workers.
The Centre had started running ‘Shramik Special’ trains on May 1, after receiving much flak from the Opposition for its treatment of migrant workers, who were left stranded during the nationwide lockdown. The lockdown has now been extended till May 17.
In the letter, the home minister said that the Centre has facilitated more than two lakh migrant workers reach home. He added that those from West Bengal were also eager to go home and the central government is facilitating the train services. “But we are not getting [the] expected support from West Bengal. The state government of West Bengal is not allowing the trains reaching to West Bengal.”
Shah wrote that this will further create hardships for the migrant workers.
On Thursday, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had alleged that the state government was not keen on bringing back these workers. He said that he requested the Union home minister to help patients, students and migrant workers of West Bengal return home, PTI reported.
Chowdhury said he had spoken to Amit Shah. “It is his responsibility to give relief to the people stuck in different states owing to the lockdown and hold consultations with the respective state governments in this regard,” he added.
Till now, West Bengal has recorded 1,678 cases and 160 deaths, according to figures from the Ministry of Health. However, the Centre has also accused the Mamata Banerjee-led state of fudging coronavirus numbers. On Wednesday, the Centre rebuked the state government over its low coronavirus testing figures, high mortality rate and numerous instances of violation of lockdown guidelines.
“The response to Covid-19 in the state of West Bengal is characterised by a very low rate of testing in proportion to the population, and a very high rate of mortality of 13.2 per cent for the state, by far the highest for any state,” Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote in his letter to the state’s Chief Secretary Rajiv Sinha.