New Delhi: On Monday, the Union Labour Ministry argued that since there was no data on the subject of migrant deaths, there was “no question” as to the compensation of migrant families.  This written answer triggered an angry and aggressive response from the opposition, “If you haven’t counted, have the deaths not taken place?” said Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi, who is currently abroad for his mother’s health check-up.

In the Monsoon session of Parliament (the first since the Covid-19 pandemic ended the previous session in March), the government was asked about whether or not they had any data on or plans for compensation of families of migrants who had died.  Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Union Labour Minister, said as follows in his written response, “No such data is maintained. Question does not arise in view of the above”.

The Government did however admit that over 1 crore migrants returned home due to the pandemic.

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 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, launching an attack on the Modi Government tweeted this morning, calling them a government without information, and saying that the “world has seen their deaths”.  Rahul and Sonia Gandhi would be missing the beginning of the Monsoon Session, due to Sonia Gandhi’s health issues.

Kerala’s Finance Minister, Thomas Isaac, also went on the attack, terming it “utter callousness” and stating that the Centre “does not care about deaths of migrants they have caused”.

In March, when PM Modi first announced a nation-wide lockdown, many migrant labourers were evicted and were unable to pay the rent, and thus were forced to travel back to their hometowns. As their income sources had dried up, they were forced to walk for days without food or medicine in case of sickness, resulting in many deaths, according to reports from around the country. Several states had arranged for special transport services amid lockdown.

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