Edit & Opinion

In India’s Opinion | The Dispatch on 29 May 2020

Every Monday to Saturday, The Dispatch brings to you a selection of Editorials from leading newspapers across the country.

Unsafe journeys

“As Court has underlined, safety and dignity of migrants is responsibility of states, Railways,” reads the editorial of The Indian Express. It further said, “A video clip of a toddler at Muzaffarpur railway station in Bihar tugging at a piece of cloth covering his dead mother, that went viral on Wednesday, frames a continuing tragedy. In the first week of May, the Indian Railways started Shramik Special trains to ferry back home migrant workers, who have waged a grim struggle for existence after their livelihoods dried up following the announcement of the nationwide lockdown on March 24. For large numbers of these workers, these journeys has been arduous. Trains have been delayed, and several have deviated from their routes. Nine people have died on their way back home in the Shramik Specials. Now the Supreme Court has taken cognisance of the matter,” read the full editorial here.

Urban battlegrounds

“Though areas worst hit by Covid need utmost hyperlocal care Lockdown 4.0 should be the last,” reads the ediotrial of Times of India. It further reads, “Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba’s interaction with municipal commissioners and district magistrates of 13 cities that account for 70% of Covid-19 cases points to clusters in these urban areas becoming focus areas in the day ahead. After taking 109 days to reach one lakh cases, it took just nine more days to add another 50,000 cases. India now has the second highest growth rate of positive cases among the ten most affected countries but a fatality rate of 2.9% is much lower than its peers. Patients needing critical care are proportionately fewer in India and these gains from the lockdown must be preserved as the economy opens further,” read the full editorial here.

Mother of Muzaffarpur

“New social security code may mitigate suffering,” reads the editorial of The Tribune. It further reads, “EVEN after death, it seemed she was watching over her two tiny tots, one barely walking. The mother of Muzaffarpur, lying dead on the railway platform with nobody to mourn or cremate her, has replaced all other metaphors of misery of the migrant labourers during the Covid lockdown. She still remains nameless; the politician who tweeted the video clip of a toddler trying to wake up his dead mother did not care to find out her name or whereabouts. All that we know from news reports is she was travelling in a Shramik train from Surat in Gujarat to Katihar in Bihar. In the past couple of days, five others have died in Shramik trains, one of them a four-year-old child. Some say they have died of exhaustion, dehydration and hunger, but the Railways insists that they had pre-existing conditions. The migrants who travelled in cement mixers and crossed the Yamuna on tyre tubes have survived, but not these unfortunate passengers of Shramik trains, which strayed from their stipulated routes without food or water in the peak of summer,” read the full editorial here.

Going home: Unplanned Shramik Special trains

“A little attention from the Centre to the welfare of migrant workers would have gone a long way. Not everything is a matter of political showmanship,” reads the editorial of Telegraph. It further reads, “The bizarre, often tragic, tale of India’s Shramik Special trains has made clear that the government has not the slightest idea of the number of migrant workers in the country. That they did not figure in the Centre’s decision to lock down the country is now well known. The spectacle of men, women and children walking hundreds of kilometres to their villages has become an indelible image of India’s attitude towards its workers. Now that trains ferrying them home are plying after various ugly tussles over who is to pay — numerous workers, unpaid by their employers, were forced to buy tickets — there are confusions still. Since the decision to run the special trains was taken hurriedly amid political wrangling and moral pressure from the Opposition, there was no planning. It is as if the government plunged into it blind. Two thousand five hundred and seventy trains have run since May 1, a large number among them to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh from western India. The railways minister is talking of running 100 trains a day — no one knows how many migrant workers still need to go home. Unscheduled trips mean congestion of regular routes, necessitating long diversions. Journeys are sometimes taking days instead of hours, sometimes ending in the wrong destination. Trains seem to be losing their way,” read the full editorial here.


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