Congress MLA Naushad Solanki was detained by police after he staged a dharna at office of the Surendranagar district collector alleging government officers were not accepting cheque worth Rs 7.8 lakh to pay the travel fares of migrant workers who were to board a train to Uttar Pradesh on Saturday.
The MLA and seven others went to the district collector’s office at around 12 pm to hand over a cheque worth Rs 7.8 lakh. The MLA said that he wanted to pay train fares on behalf of 1,041 migrant labourers. stranded here due to the lockdown, who were to board a train to Kanpur on Saturday.
“However, the collector refused to accept the cheque. So, we staged dharna in the collector office and announced that if I was not allowed to pay fares on behalf of migrant workers, the train would only be able to leave Surendranagar after running over my body. When we were leaving the office for railway station, we were detained at around 12.15 pm,” Solanki said.
Superintendent of Police of Surendranagar district, Mahendra Bagaria said that Solanki’s detention was a preventive measure. “The MLA had announced that he would lie down before the train which was to ferry migrant workers. Therefore, we took him and other Congress workers in preventive custody and released them at 3:30 pm,” said the SP.
The Congress MLA claimed that officers of district administration were collecting Rs. 650 from each migrant labourer as train fare. “The mamlatdar of Surendranagar city conceded this to us and said that fare had already been collected from 335 migrant workers. We also saw a teacher who was deputed to disaster management cell of the district collecting fares from workers. I offered to help them (the workers) in my personal capacity by paying their train fare. But the collector refused to accept the cheque,” alleged Solanki.
But Surendranagar District Collector K Rajesh said the district administration was not a railway fare collecting agency. “The district administration is merely facilitating travel of the migrants. The fare collection is a matter between passenger and the railways. We told the honourable MLA that if he wanted to help the workers, he could deposit the money with Western Railway or directly give to workers,” Rajesh said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had announced that her party would bear the ticket expense of the train journey of migrant workers who are being sent back to their homes.
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