Claim: Two days ago it was claimed that Karnataka had unilaterally canceled special trains that were earmarked to carry migrant workers to their respective states, especially UP and Bihar. Several news outlets which are 'usual suspects' at reporting against BJP governments outraged over this 'decision' by Karnataka and claimed that the CM of Karnataka BS Yediyurappa was forced to take this decision to 'revive economy' and due to pressure from the builders lobby to retain the work force. It was also reported that a lobby of builders had met the CM a day before the trains were canceled.
As usual, apart from these channels and news outlets, Congress leaders, many liberals and activists vented their ire against the Karnataka government for being 'inhuman'. However, the facts available disprove the claims and also indicate towards a nefarious propaganda against the BJP government in Karnataka and CM Yediyurappa.
Fact: It turns out the Karnataka government has canceled only those trains which were not needed to send the migrants home and not any other trains to facilitate movement of stranded persons. Karnataka had made necessary arrangements to send anyone wanting to go back to their hometowns, including arranging trains. Meanwhile, efforts were made to convince them to stay back and resume work in their respective workplaces on 5th May. Since all of them left for their workplaces, there was no need for the Government to run the trains that were decided to be operated on 6th May. Only such trains were canceled after intimating the same to the General Manager of South Western Railways.
Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi_Surya exposed the propaganda in a series of question and answers which is presented below verbatim.
1.) Has the State of Karnataka forced all migrant workers from traveling back to their native states?
No. However, let's first get the facts right. The country is in a lockdown. Movement of people and vehicles is restricted. No person can presently claim to have unrestricted fundamental right to travel in the country. An exception is made to the restriction on travel to facilitate movement of persons stranded in different places.
In a letter dated 3rd May 2020 addressed to Chief Secretaries of all states, the Union Home Secretary has made it abundantly clear that the MHA orders regarding movement of persons are meant to facilitate movement of such stranded persons, who had moved from their native places/ workplaces, just before the lockdown period, but could not return to their native places on account of restrictions placed on movement of persons as part of lockdown measures.
It categorically states that it does not extend to those categories of persons, including migrant workers, who are residing normally at workplaces which are other than their native places and who wish to visit their native places in normal course. A clear distinction is made between migrant workers residing in a workplace in normal course and those workers who were 'stranded' at the time of lockdown and now wanting to return to their native places. Only those persons who the State recognises as 'stranded' will be permitted to leave the state, provided the native state permits the entry of such people. This is the SOP followed by all states.
2.) Why did the state government stop trains?
About 5000 migrant workers wanted to travel to Bihar. They had all assembled at Bangalore International Exhibition Center. Karnataka made necessary arrangements to send them back to Bihar, including arranging trains. In the meanwhile, efforts were made to convince them to stay back and resume work in their respective workplaces on 5th May. Since all of them left for their workplaces, there was no need for the Government to run the trains that were decided to be operated on 6th May. Hence, the Principal Secretary to Government, Revenue Department again communicated to the General Manager, South Western Railways for canceling the arrangements that were supposed to be made on the next day. The state government has canceled only those trains and not any other trains to facilitate movement of stranded persons.
3.) What about those workers who say they want to go back home? Some are saying they feel they have been robbed of an option to go back home?
If they are stranded workers, then they will be permitted to go back home and all facilities, including providing trains will be made, provided the native state permits their entry.
If they do not fall in that category and want to visit their native place in normal course, they will not be permitted, like any other individual. No person other than stranded migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded and permitted by the MHA guidelines will be permitted.
All stranded people have an option to go back to their native places. It is wrong to say that they have been robbed of the option. As far as other persons are concerned, there are travel restrictions in place as the country is in lockdown.
4.) Do you think in order to kick start industry, it is important to have trains or buses in the opposite direction. ?
Saving lives takes precedence over saving livelihoods. When time is appropriate for full scale economic activities to start, the government can explore this in consultation with other state governments and in concurrence with MHA guidelines.
5.) What measures has BS Yediyurappa government taken to support migrant workers in Karnataka, especially construction workers?
There are 15.80 lakh registered building workers in the state. Government has already transferred Rs 2,000 to the bank account of 11.80 lakh building workers through DBT. Action has already been initiatied to transfer Rs 2,000 to the accounts of the remaining 4 lakh construction workers soon after verifying beneficiaries bank account details. In addition to this, government has decided to transfer additional amount of Rs 3,000 to building workers through DBT. In addition, the government has provided ration kits from the labour department to all workers.
The Q&A also proves that the 'secular' and 'liberal' news channels did not verify the claim or attempt to even reach out to the CMO to ascertain the facts. The claim is fake.