Apex court trashes UP claims on riots relief

SC says people have no faith in government

The Supreme Court on Wednesday trashed the Uttar Pradesh government’s tall claims on relief and rehabilitation of Muzaffarnagar riots victims by asking why displaced people were not willing to go back to their villages.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam questioned the state government over the steps taken after the riots which claimed lives of 65 people.

“In spite of all the steps, they (displaced people) are not willing to go back. It shows they have no confidence,” the bench said. The court was responding to the claims made by senior advocate U U Lalit, appearing for the UP government. He said 1,629 riot victims– mostly labourers and landless peasants -- had taken Rs 5 lakh compensation for relocation on the condition that they would not go back to their villages.

The bench asked him to explain as to why the victims were not willing to go back and further wondered if the compensation of Rs 5 lakh awarded to those who lost their homes was enough. Lalit, who appeared in place of senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, said the demographic condition was responsible for the victims’ reluctance to go back. He also told the court that the state government was agreeable to provide compensation equal to the loss of property to those who wanted to go back to their own villages.

During the day-long hearing, the counsel also explained how the number of affected people recorded at relief camps as 59,900 had come down to about 2,619 people till the last month. He also submitted the details of events which led to the conflagration and killings in the month of September last in Muzaffarnar and surrounding districts in western UP.

The bench also comprising Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Shiva Kirti Singh, started final hearing in the bunch of PILs in the matter. The court also told the state government that it was open to transferring the probe in riots to a special investigating agency if the measures taken were not sufficient.

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