Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh on Sunday defended the Uttar Pradesh government’s notification providing for a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh only to Muslims affected in the recent Muzzaffarnagar communal riots.
“Injustice cannot be done to those Muslim families who have lost not only their members but all possessions and did not want to return to their villages from rehabilitation camps,” Mr. Singh said speaking at a function held at the Islamic Cultural Centre to celebrate his birthday. “What has happened is unfortunate and the lives lost cannot be returned, but we can at least provide succour to the affected families. Sixteen non-Muslims and 47 Muslims lost their lives in the clashes,” he said. No other State, including Gujarat, had given such a generous package to riot affected families.
Perhaps responding to the Supreme Court’s observation that the Uttar Pradesh government could not differentiate in its compensation package on the basis of community or religion, he said: “Both sides suffered. But the Muslim casualty and tod phod [damage to property suffered by the community] were higher.”
Last Thursday, the court asked the government to recall the October 26 order and issue a fresh one to include all people hit by violence for the compensation.)
Party general secretary Ramgopal Yadav said the U.P. government was not against Hindus but it wanted to recognise the contribution of Muslims. “You should not doubt Mulayam Singh’s intention,” he told Muslim leaders in the audience who included freedom fighter Abbas Ali Khan
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday censured the Akhilesh Yadav government for favouring the Muslim community in relief and rehabilitation following the Muzaffarnagar riots in August and forced it to withdraw the “biased” notification.
Appearing for a section of Jat community residing in riot-hit UP districts, advocate M L Sharma drew the court’s attention to a UP government notification promising Rs 5 lakh to relocate Muslim families living in relief camps who have refused to return to their villages.
A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana P Desai and Ranjan Gogoi took serious exception to the notification and said, “In your relief operations, if your notification favours one community, then it is bound to backfire. How can relief and rehabilitation measures be denied on the ground of religion?”
Senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan immediately assured the court that no one would be discriminated and that a corrigendum to the notification would soon be issued. “The team which visited the relief camps thought only Muslims wanted relocation. Now, it will be extended to all, whoever wants to relocate,” he said.
However, the bench, after brief deliberation, asked for the notification to be withdrawn. “We feel you have to recall this notification and issue a fresh one to include all riot-affected families, whosoever is eligible irrespective of their religious or community identity,” the judges said.
Dhavan instantly gave the undertaking to the court that the state would withdraw the ‘faulty’ notification and issue it afresh as soon as possible, extending the relocation grant of Rs 5 lakh to riot victims without discrimination.
Moments after the state government wriggled out of an embarrassing accusation of offering relief benefits to one community, the court issued notice on a writ petition filed by one Ravindra Kumar of Malikpur Majra Kawal village in Muzaffarngar district, who alleged the police investigation into the riots was biased.
Ravindra Kumar’s son and nephew were murdered on August 27, an incident which triggered the riots. His counsel, senior advocate Pinky Anand, claimed the ruling party in UP “tried to unduly influence” police when they arrested the accused. When the police officials refused to oblige the political bosses, they were transferred out of the district on the same day, she alleged.
The petitioner also alleged that the investigating officer had drafted an affidavit on the murder case and asked him to file his affidavit on the same lines. Anand said this was nothing but trying to tutor the complainant in a serious case to follow the line dictated by the police.
The bench headed by Justice Sathasivam termed this “a serious issue” and asked the UP government to look into it immediately.