Pulling up the Uttar Pradesh government over the plight of victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots, the Supreme Court has ordered it to immediately supply blankets and medical help to people living in relief camps.
The apex court reacted sharply to media reports of death of some 50 children due to cold and poor facilities in the relief camps.
“Taking note of the cold conditions in the forthcoming months, we hereby further direct the state administration, particularly the district concerned, to take necessary steps and provide required remedial assistance at once,” said the three-member bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathashivam.
Over 60 people were killed in riots in Muzaffarnagar and nearby areas in September, while more than 43,000 were displaced.
Justice Sathashivam said the court was very concerned over media reports of children’s deaths and directed the state government to provide all material help by Friday.
He said the helpless people were living in open camps and the coming months of severe cold will be difficult for them. He posted further hearing for Jan 21.
On being told that the state government has already formed a committee to look into the complaints after seven deaths were reported in October, the chief justice said that if the court does not find the findings of this investigation agency, it shall set up a special investigation team.
The court recorded assurance of the state government’s senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan that “necessary steps will be provided by Friday, Dec 13”.
Other judges on the bench were Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The court noted that the petitioners have reported deaths in camps based on a newspaper’s report and their own investigations.
The court also noted non-implementation of its earlier directions fully to provide necessary help to the inmates of the camps, particularly to children, aged people and all affected people.
It directed the state government to file a detailed report on the correct position at the next hearing.
The court said various news channels have shown images of people struggling for their lives in the cold under the open sky. It quoted media reports as saying that around 50 children died as they could not bear the cold temperatures of the season.
“It is very unfortunate for a country like India that the whole country is unable to save even small children who were dying on account of their no fault,” the court said.