Congress, the principal opposition party of India, has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to run "COVID protection trains" for internal migrant workers desperate to get home amid the national lockdown. All forms of public transit have been suspended as part of India's response to the pandemic, leaving internal migrant day labourers, who usually get paid on a daily basis, stranded.
The request came as the 21-day lockdown announced by Modi is likely to be extended beyond 14 April, in light of emerging opinions voiced by various political parties throughout the country.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhur, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's parliament, has written to the prime minister suggesting that special trains could be operated for the stranded labours.
"I firmly believe that you are aware about stranded migrant labourers from various parts of the country with inadequate food, lodging, clothing, and healthcare,” Chowdhury has stated in his letter.
“I suggest that you arrange to ferry these people to their homes or a nearby point from where their respective states would assure them a safe return home,” the letter added.
It goes on to also suggest that "we utilise special ‘Covid protection trains’ specifically for helping these helpless, penniless labourers, to get rid of their mental agony”.
Currently, the labourers lodged in various camps are being taken care of by the respective state governments.
Meanwhile, the country has recorded a surge in coronavirus patients with 678 new cases and 35 deaths recorded Thursday for the previous 24 hours. The latest statistics have pushed the total tally to over 6,600 COVID-19 cases and 200 deaths in India.