The BJP on Wednesday rejected the allegation that starvation was behind the death of passengers on 'Shramik Special' trains and said the manner in which the issue was being "politicised" was unprecedented.
"None of the deaths in Shramik trains has been caused by hunger or starvation as per postmortem reports. Natural deaths have occurred on trains earlier too but the manner in which unfortunate deaths of shramiks (labourers) have been politicised is unprecedented without (critics) waiting to know about the exact cause of deaths," the BJP said in a statement.
Its spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain cited details of postmortem reports and comments of some of the deceased's family members to claim that they suffered from pre-existing conditions.
Dashrath Prajapati (30) suffered from chronic kidney disease, the health of Ram Ratan Ground (63) had been deteriorating, Ibrar Ahmed's postmortem report found brain stroke as cause of death and not dehydration while Arbina Khatoon suffered from pre-existing mental ailment, Hussain said, referring to some of those who died during their journey.
"We are not here to do petty politics. Government believes in tackling the problems head on, and addressing it," he said.
The BJP's statement came after Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi hit out at the central government, saying this has been "admitted" that at least 81 deaths have happened and there are allegations that more fatalities occurred but were not being declared by the railways.
The opposition party demanded resignation of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, accusing the government of distorting facts on payments for these train services.
The Congress said the central government has not spent a single penny on running special trains for migrant workers returning home as Solicitor General Tushar
Mehta has made it clear before the Supreme Court that state governments receiving or sending migrants were to pay for them.
Hussain reiterated that the Railways bore 85 per cent of the total cost of getting the migrants back to their home states, while the remaining 15 per cent was charged from the states.
The solicitor general also said the same in the Supreme Court when asked who will pay the fare which is covered by the state, Hussain said.
'Shramik Special' trains are being supplied with multiple meals and adequate drinking water, with over 1.5 crore meals and two crore packaged water bottles having been provided by the railways free of cost, he said.
As many as 4197 of these special trains have carried 58 lakh passengers to their home states between May 1 and June 3, the BJP leader said.