Can’t allow another 1984: Delhi HC orders burials with ‘dignity’, shelters for riot victims

Can’t allow another 1984: Delhi HC orders burials with ‘dignity’, shelters for riot victims

HC also directs Delhi Police to set up helplines and order ambulances. Tells govt’s top lawyer to explore options for compensation for riot victims.

A woman in violence-hit Bhajanpura on 26 February

A woman in violence-hit Bhajanpura on 26 February | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

New Delhi: In the wake of the violence in Northeast Delhi, the Delhi High Court passed a slew of directions Wednesday, ordering senior officials from both the state and central governments to personally meet the victims and their families.

The court was hearing a petition filed by social activist Rahul Roy, in continuation of the midnight hearing that took place at Justice S. Muralidhar’s residence at 12:30 early Wednesday.

The bench comprising Justices Muralidhar and S.A. Bhambani asserted that such “confidence building measures” were important and said, “We shouldn’t let another 1984 happen in this city, not under the watch of this court.”

In its order, the court directed the police to ensure safe passage of bodies and burial with “utmost dignity” after due consultation with victims’ relatives.

It also ordered the setting up of helplines and helpdesks, and adequately publicity of the numbers. Secretaries of all District Legal Services Authorities have been told to ensure that their helplines work 24×7 for the next two weeks “to cater to the immediate needs of victims”.

Special Commissioner of Police assured the court that he would immediately look into this and set up the helplines.

Also read: Riot-hit Northeast Delhi has 1 MP, 7 MLAs but only one has visited his constituency

Ambulances, shelter homes

The court directed the Delhi Police to requisition sufficient ambulances, including private ones.

It also took note of people being displaced because of the violence as well, observing, “Many people have had to leave their homes and are afraid to get back.”

It then ordered the government to tackle this on “war footing” and ensure that there are enough shelters set up, with basic amenities, including blankets, medicines, sanitation and clean drinking water.

The court further assured the petitioners that it would order every district judge to designate one night magistrate for at least two weeks to cater to the immediate needs of victims. It also directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to explore the options for compensation available for those injured and the families of the deceased.

“And don’t let it get mired in bureaucracy,” Justice Muralidhar added.

Director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences was also ordered to make professionals available for riot victims who might be suffering from PTSD, etc.

The court posted the matter for hearing next on 28 February, while appointing Advocate Zubeda Begum as the amicus curiae.

Also read: The Delhi pogrom 2020 is Amit Shah’s answer to an election defeat

Midnight hearing

The court had, in an urgent midnight hearing asked the police to ensure safe passage for some injured riot victims stuck in a Mustafabad hospital, and emergency treatment to them.

The hearing took place at Justice Muralidhar’s residence after advocate Suroor Mander called up the judge to inform him of the “dire circumstances, under which certain grievously wounded victims of the riots taking place in the North Eastern District of Delhi, were unable to be removed from the Al Hind Hospital in New Mustafabad”.

Hearing the plea, the bench of Justices Muralidhar and Bhambhani was informed that the rioters were not allowing any ambulance to pass, and that doctors at Al Hind wanted the police to help in the safe shifting of the patients.

The court then said that the Delhi Police must deploy “all resources at its command” and ensure that the victims receive “immediate emergency treatment”.

Also read: Delhi riots neither designed by Modi govt, nor Islamic conspiracy. It’s far more dangerous