Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Gauhati HC asks for report on BTAD camps in Assam

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The Gauhati High Court on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into the alleged pitiable living conditions in the four relief camps in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD). The camps shelter victims of the 2012 ethnic violence in the state. The ethnic violence erupted in Assam between the indigenous Bodos and the Bengali-speaking Muslims.

The inmates of the camps are yet to be rehabilitated even four years after the violence.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Singh and Justice Suman Shyam passed the order, directing the Registrar (vigilance) of the High Court to visit these camps and submit a report.

Of the four camps in BTAD, three are in the Chirang district of Assam while one is in the Kokrajhar district of the state.

The court is hearing three PILs together on the issue as they contain identical points. Senior advocate SS Dey was appointed amicus curiae by the court in the case.

Dey said the court passed this order based on a suggestion put forward by him. He told the media that it was a common order passed by the High Court in the three PILs, including a suo motu PIL registered by the court on the basis of a memorandum submitted to it by an NGO.

There had been reports that the inmates are still unwilling to go home, fearing for their safety. Many of them claim that they have not been provided even minimum livelihood and sustenance. There were complaints that the camp inmates were not being provided relief materials.

One of the PILs was filed by Raju Doley in 2012, seeking the intervention of the High Court to help the victims of riots who had taken shelter in relief camps in Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Chirang and Bongaigaon districts.

According to the petitioners, the victims face several problems like over-crowding in relief camps; non-availability of food, water and clothing; lack of medical facilities; lack of care for pregnant women, lactating women and senior citizens; lack of toilets for women; poor drainage of rainwater leading to breeding of mosquitoes; and lack of coordination between various agencies.

The petitioners say certain social activists visited the area and found that essential facilities necessary for the survival of inmates were not up to mark. Directions have been sought for the enforcement of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The filing of PILs forced the state government to extend certain facilities to some of the camps in 2013 but the condition of the four   camps remains by and large the same.

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