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Posted Online on Thursday 1, September 2005 16:55 IST

Minorities Council appeals for Justice to all victims of violence

Welcomes Apology to the Sikh Community and Promise of their Rehabilitation

PRESS NOTE

The Milli Gazette (online edition)

It is reassuring to us to note the universal concern expressed in the Parliament and the media over the 1984anti-Sikh massacre and the continuing denial of justice to the victims, which made the Prime Minister tender apology on behalf of the nation to the oppressed minority Sikh community.

We welcome the assurance given by the Prime Minister to bring the guilty to justice and to take measures for full rehabilitation of all the sufferers of the pogrom. 

Though we note with satisfaction that payment of compensation of rupees two lakhs (with interest) made to the next of kin of all those who were killed in Delhi in compliance with the judgment of the Delhi High Court in July 1996, the cases of similar compensation for those killed in Kanpur, Bokaro and Jabalpur etc. in 1984 are still pending. We urge the Government of India to get compensation paid uniformly to all sufferers. Moreover there is a need for raising the amount of compensation to at least five lakh rupees.

On this occasion we cannot refrain from expressing our anguish and concern on the continuing denial of justice to the victims of other riots and pogroms where largely Muslims have been the sufferers, like those in Moradabad (1980), Nellie (1983), Meerut (1982 & 1987), and Mumbai and other places (1992-93) and finally in Gujarat 2002.

It is not only that the guilty have been very rarely punished, ex-gratia compensation paid to those who suffered loss of life, and property have ranged between a few thousand rupees to a lakh or so.

The nation need to feel ashamed of the shocking reality that the next of kin of all those forty one Muslims brutally killed by the PAC in Hashimpur, Meerut (1987) have been paid a mere Rs. 40,000 each. The writ petition for adequate compensation filed by victims in 1995 is still lying in the Court and the trial of the indicted PAC personnel is yet to start. 

The case of victims of
Nellie is even worse. 

In case of Gujarat the Apex Court has directed the petitioners to approach the High Court for settling claims of compensation, although it has not set aside Justice Anil Dev Singh’s judgment regarding compensation to the victims.

The statutory recommendation of the National Commission for Minorities (1997) to uniformly apply the ratio of Justice Anil Dev Singh’s judgment and its direction to pay all victims of similar violence the same amount of compensation has been disregarded by most states.

This has been a frustrating experience for the Muslim community. They are made to feel that they do not enjoy equality of status as citizens and equal protection of the laws, as guaranteed under the constitution. 

In view of this we urge the Government of India and of the States and Union Territories to take immediate measures for enactment of a law on the rights of victims of mass violence, providing for full rehabilitation and compensation of all losses suffered by victims and their participation in the trial of the accused and their protection as witnesses.

The central law should have all India jurisdiction under Article 355 and should have no limitation of time. It should provide for constitution of a judicial Tribunal to speedily determine and settle all losses by victims of violence and should settle all claims, including reconstruction of sacred places.

Enactment of this law should be delinked from enactment of the proposed comprehensive law on Communal Violence, though the latter should incorporate provisions on compensation and rehabilitation. 

We believe in the process of reconciliation. But we consider punishment of unrepentant guilty and full rehabilitation of innocent victims as a precondition of any reconciliation. 

Prof Iqbal A. Ansari 
General Secretary, Minorities Council of India
iqbalansari2001@hotmail.com
22 August 2005 «

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