The Congress on Sunday urged the government to show more empathy to migrants and protect them during a crisis, saying what is happening to them is "perhaps the greatest human tragedy of our times".
Instead of presiding over the plight of migrant labourers, the government should rescue them as they have been left with no choice but to walk hundreds of kilometres to return home, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said.
She said almost 50 days into the coronavirus lockdown "we continue to wake up to see heart-wrenching visuals" of people without footwear and food walking to their homes.
Visuals of pregnant women, little children, people atop a goods truck, those crushed to death while walking home on railway tracks have been deeply worrying, she said.
"What is happening to our migrant labourers is perhaps the greatest human tragedy of our times," Shrinate said.
At an online press conference, she asserted that migrant labourers were hit the worst by the pandemic as they were given only a four-hour notice for the lockdown. The Congress leader said the migrants are forced to stay where they were, have lost jobs and do not have money or food.
"There were millions of migrant workers who were left stranded all across the country, no measures were taken to rescue or protect them. And even today, we see many of them walking home.
"How can we Indians be fine with the worst human tragedy unfolding right before our eyes? On last count till May 8, as many as 42 migrant workers had lost their lives, who is responsible for this," she said.
Shrinate said at a time of crisis, this "most insensitive government" decided to charge jobless migrant labourers money for rail tickets as well.
"The BJP has continued to play petty politics and both the railway ministry as well as the central government have tried to block the assistance offered by Congress," she said.
"We urge the government to earnestly announce proper rescue and relief measures for migrant labour," she said. Raising questions on the government's actions, she asked, "Why is the government not doing anything for migrants?"
"Why has the PM-Cares Fund been put in quarantine instead of using money for those who are most adversely impacted? How much has been collected in the fund and when will it be used? It's time this insensitive government wakes up to the plight of migrant labour and decisively acts to protect them," the Congress leader said.