West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday categorically denied referring to ‘Shramik Special’ trains, ferrying migrant labourers back home, as “Corona Express” – an allegation made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday categorically denied referring to ‘Shramik Special’ trains, ferrying stranded migrant labourers back home, as “Corona Express” – an allegation made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently.
Instead, the Trinamool Congress chief insisted that it was the people who gave that name to crammed-to-capacity trains.
“I haven’t said ‘Corona Express’, my statement was misinterpreted. I had said people were saying so. What I meant was these migrant labourers were sent violating the social distancing norms. Why stuff people in a single train? The train that was supposed to carry 1200 people are carrying 2,000-2,500 people,” she said.
The Trinamool Congress supremo continued by saying, “The frequency of the trains should have been increased instead of stuffing them in a single train. The migrants that are returning from five high-risk states are being kept in institutional quarantine. We have increased our testing numbers. Yes, our numbers will increase, there’s nothing to worry but it will help us detect more people.”
Her comments came a day after Amit Shah, while addressing a virtual rally for West Bengal, accused Banerjee of “insulting” migrant workers returning to the state on Shramik Special trains by calling the trains ‘Corona Express’, and asserted that migrant workers will ensure the “exit” of her government in the 2021 assembly polls.
“More than 11 lakh migrants have returned to Bengal. I never called the migrant special trains ‘Corona Express’,” she told reporters.
Meanwhile, the West Bengal Chief Minister also announced two shifts for government employees and closure of schools in July as well. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that government staff will work in two shifts – from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm and 12 noon to 5.50 pm.
“The earlier timing was 10.30 am to 5.30 pm. But now, we have split it into two shifts for easy movement of all government employees. I understand that commuting by public transport is a big issue,” she told a press conference at the state Secretariat Nabanna.
She said that unlike other states, her government was giving salaries to all its employees without deductions amid the Covid-19 situation. She said if any government employee gets late in reaching office by an hour no penalty would be levied for late attendance.
Banerjee said that all schools will also remain closed in July, but the examinations will be conducted. Earlier, the state government had said that all schools would remain closed till June 30. “I urge all school authorities not to encourage any school fees hike,” the Chief Minister said.
Calling the nationwide lockdown as an “unplanned move” by the Centre, she blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government for not taking adequate care of the migrant workers across the country.
“They have not done anything. But in Bengal, we have taken care of all migrant workers. So far, 11 lakh migrant labourers have returned to Bengal by trains and over 30,000 are yet to come,” Banerjee said, adding that the state government has allowed gathering of only 25 people at a time in a place for marriage and religious functions.
News Credit Zee News