The Congress on Saturday charged the Bihar government with "humiliating" migrant workers by coming out with "one precondition after another" for doling out financial assistance which was promised by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar when special trains carrying them started coming to the state in the beginning of the month.
AICC media panelist Prem Chandra Mishra, who is also a member of the state legislative council, fumed at a letter issued by the principal secretary of disaster management department to all district magistrates on the previous day with specific directions about payment of 'mazdoor nishkraman sahayta' (labourers evacuation assistance).
"It is appalling that having a bank account, in Bihar and in ones own name, has been made a necessary precondition for remittance of Rs 1,000. Do the officials not understand that there is little likelihood that a daily wage earner, coming back from a far-off land, will have a bank account here," Mishra asked.
He also lamented that the letter indicated that a flat sum of Rs 1,000 will be transferred into bank accounts of all migrant workers who fit the bill.
"The clause flies in the face of the chief ministers promise that the money paid to workers will be an assistance of Rs 500 in addition to the travel expenses. It is based on the presumption that nobody could have paid more than Rs 500 for the journey back home. What about people who might have coughed up Rs 700-800, coming from far-off places like Tamil Nadu," Mishra asked.
The Congress leader alleged that the state government appeared to have "no intention of helping migrant workers at all" and it has been "humiliating them by bringing up one precondition after another for payment of a paltry sum".
"A few days ago, another letter by the official told district magistrates to intimidate migrants protesting the sub-par facilities at quarantine centres with the threat of withholding their payment," Mishra said.
The "threatening letter" was yet another attempt by the state government to "brush under the carpet the squalor and mismanagement that is rampant at quarantine centres", alleged Mishra recalling the "ban" imposed on entry of media persons into these places.
"Does the government feel it is doing a huge favour by offering a pittance to its own people who are in distress? We wonder whether the chief minister is helpless before the reprehensible behaviour of the bureaucrats or they are acting with his tacit approval," the Congress leader added.