//Gujarat govt indifferent to riot-affected people: NHRC

Gujarat govt indifferent to riot-affected people: NHRC

New Delhi, Mar 12: In a severe criticism of the Gujarat government on relief and rehabilitation of the victims of the post-Godhra riots, the NHRC has said the state has been "indifferent" in tackling the issue and the compensation paid to the people displaced by the riots was "grossly inadequate".

The commission, in its annual report for 2003-04 tabled recently in Parliament, states that it has continued to be concerned about the relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of the victims of the communal violence in Gujarat.

The NHRC said it had proposed several measures for relief and rehabilitation of riot victims but the experience of the commission has been that the state government has been less than forthcoming or cooperative in responding to the recommendations, that included setting up a Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA).

It said that the report of the state Chief Secretary sent to the commission in September, 2003, in response to the recommendations made by the NHRC was "more intended to block any action on the issues suggested by the commission than to address them."

Meanwhile, the commission’s special rapporteur, when consulted on the issue of setting up a GRA, stated that the compensation paid to those displaced in the riots was grossly inadequate.

As per the report of the police, the total damage to properties was to the tune of Rs 687.34 crore, whereas the state government had distributed only Rs 56.37 crore to the affected persons, which works out to just about nine per cent of the loss.

The commission again wrote to the state government, saying there was a strong need to set up the authority. But the state government sent a letter to the commission in December, 2003, stating that it did not accept the suggestion to constitute a GRA. It termed the suggestion as improper, saying it was, on the direction of the high court, actively engaged in the redressal of grievances of the riot-affected persons.

The commission, in response, said the petitioners to the high court, on oral instructions of the court, had been given personal hearing by the Chief Secretary but "there is no progress in the matter of redressal of their grievances."

The NHRC conveyed this information to the Chief Secretary to press its demand for an authority but a reply from the state government was still awaited.