In a development that once again brings to surface the anti-Hindu policies of the Congress led UPA government and the constant efforts of the Modi government to rectify such wrongdoings, Minister of State for Railways, Rajen Gohain, today replied to a question in the Lok Sabha about the removal of UPA era kumbh mela surcharge. According to the written reply, during major melas, the railways have to provide certain facilities, which include additional booking counters, erection of pilgrim sheds, running of mela specials, etc.
श्रद्धालुओं की धार्मिक आस्था को ध्यान में रखते हुए और पर्यटन को बढ़ावा देने के लिए केंद्र सरकार ने रेलवे द्वारा वसूले जा रहे मेला अधिशुल्क को समाप्त करने का निर्णय लिया है, जिससे कुम्भ और ऐसे सभी मेलों में लगाए जा रहे अधिशुल्क से यात्रियों को राहत मिलेगी pic.twitter.com/7BNyVIQrBm
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) December 12, 2018
What is shocking is the fact that mela surcharge used to be levied in view of the additional expenditure incurred in lieu of the above mentioned facilities. This shows the apathy and insensitivity of the previous governments. It is important to bear in mind that the Railways is a national carrier and as such takes care of the transportation of the general public. It is totally unjust to levy a surcharge on the travellers including pilgrims coming from all possible economic backgrounds including those who might be barely able to manage a visit to the kumbh mela. While the previous governments used to subsidise the Hajj pilgrimage, additional surcharge was levied on those travelling for the kumbh mela. This shows blatant discrimination against Hindu traditions and appeasement of the minority community. The mela surcharge was no less than a jaziya tax and it summarises the anti-Hindu attitude of the previous government.
In a welcome move, the system of the mela surcharge has been done away with under the present dispensation. Apart from this, no pending amount will be collected for the tickets which have been already booked in advance. The additional facilities being provided for the kumbh mela at the stations include establishment of extra infrastructure like enclosures with additional UTS/ PRS counters at Sangam area, running of special trains, signage and enquiry counters at all mela locations, announcements about right train timings and other information, visual display system, deployment of additional security staff, drinking facilities, toilets, catering, etc., arrangement of CCTV and provision of 24/ 7 control towers to be managed jointly by the Railways and civil authorities. According to the reply by Rajen Gohain, it seems that the Railways have made adequate and appreciable arrangements in order to ensure that the pilgrims do not have to go through any unreasonable inconvenience during the kumbh mela. What is important to mention here is the fact that these facilities are being provided without any unreasonable surcharge being levied on the travellers.
The fact that the UPA government had been grossly insensitive to the sentiments of the Hindus had never been much of a secret. But the disclosure of this fact of a surcharge on account of additional facilities during the kumbh mela goes on to show the blatant antipathy of the UPA government towards the Hindus and kumbh pilgrims