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After describing conditions in Muzaffarnagar riot relief camps as appalling, human rights panel does a volte face

Saturday, 18 January 2014 - 7:18am IST | Place: Lucknow | Agency: dna

  • PTI

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has given a clean chit to the Akhilesh Yadav government, in fact, patting its back for the “good job” in rehabilitation of the riot victims in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. This is in stark contrast to a report submitted by its own team which had visited the riot relief camps and described the conditions there as “appalling”.

About 40 children have died in the relief camps, rape cases have been reported and three people have already died there due to cold over the past couple of days. The Samajwadi Party (SP) government has been under fire from Opposition parties for the riot victims’ pitiable condition. The government has reportedly shut down two relief camps on government land at Loi in Muzaffarnagar district and Malakpur in Shamli. There are even reports that some relief camps were bulldozed to the ground, though the government has denied that. Opposition leaders say the NHRC chief’s statement is far from the truth.

NHRC chairman KG Balakrishnan’s report about the camps at the end of the three-day camp sitting of the Commission at Lucknow on Friday came as a big relief to the Akhilesh regime. “The Commission appreciates that the rehabilitation of 51,000 displaced persons was a daunting task and the state government has by and large done a good job,” former Supreme Court Chief Justice Balakrishnan said. However, he did point out that medical facilities at the camps were not adequate.

The NHRC chief’s statement would come as a surprise to many as an NHRC team, led by Justice Cyriac Joseph, a senior Commission member, had come down heavily on the state government over the riot victims’ plight. The team visited four relief camps in Shamli district, three in Muzaffarnagar and another in Kutba village, and stated in its report that the living conditions at most camps were appalling.

The team had found the medical facilities in the camps as highly inadequate and had recommended their immediate upgradation. The report also recommended monetary compensation to the kin of those who had died in the camps. The NHRC report noted that the temporary tents put the displaced at the mercy of natural elements and exposed them to diseases. The NHRC said the camp inmates complained of insufficient ration and that only four or five generic medicines were being prescribed for a host of diseases.

Social activist Roop Rekha Verma wondered how the NHRC’s view had changed so drastically.

“Instead of getting Muslim clerics and others to pat its back for a positive media projection, the state government should do something for those shivering in the relief camps,” she said.

UP BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpayee said: “It seems Justice Balakrishnan has been feted well during his visit here. He seems to have no idea of the ground reality of the relief camps where people are still dying due to cold.” Congress spokesman Dwijendra Tripathi said the NHRC chief’s statements were a “crude joke” on the riot victims’ plight. “Thousands of them are still displaced with no roof over their head, no warm clothes in this bleak winter and no food to eat.

The government has failed to provide them any succour,” he said.

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