Surat: The BJP workers in Surat are learnt to be actively collecting bookings and money from stranded migrants for tickets on “shramik (worker)” trains being run by the Railways to transport them to their home states.
The “shramik” trains, which Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, claims to have ferried around 10 lakh migrants on around 800 trains, have been caught up in a major political controversy over who foots the bill, with the government coming under fire for making migrants pay for their tickets.
The government and the ruling BJP responded by claiming the Railways paid 85 per cent of ticket prices with the states paying the remaining 15 per cent, indicating that tickets were free for the migrants left stranded.
However, migrant workers in Surat told reporters that they had paid up to Rs 850 for their ticket. They also said the tickets were priced above normal rates, despite government assurance they wouldn’t be charged for the journey home.
Now, BJP workers that a TV channel met in Surat have admitted to playing an active role in registering migrants on the trains and collecting money for the tickets. Bhavin Topiwala, the secretary of the BJP’s youth wing in Surat, showed us a wad of cash and a bunch of tickets.
“These are tickets for people going to Uttar Pradesh. Each ticket costs Rs 590, for the one going to Prayagraj. We got the migrant workers registered and then gave the list to the authorities. We then collected the money (from the workers),” he said.