Misra Commission Report
DELHI CHAPTER – 2
(E) DEATH AT DELHI
The Government disclosure in Parliament took the number of killings at Delhi to 2146. Before the Commission the Delhi Administration filed a list of persons upon whose death payment of compensation had been admitted and given to the next of kin. The number of such persons was disclosed as 2212.
The Commission called upon the parties-victims as also the Administration-to produce a detailed list of persons killed during the riots. Several extensions were given to both sides. It is only when the Commission insisted that the list should be filed and no extension would be granted and if necessary adverse inference would be drawn, the CJC filed a list on March 31, 1986 showing the total number of deaths to be 3870. The Delhi Administration later filed a statement before the Commission admitting the number of deaths during the riots to be 2307.
Between the initial disclosure of deaths in Delhi as made in Parliament and latest figure give by the Delhi Administration , there is a difference of 161.
At the foot of the list supplied by the CJC there has been a little arithmetical exercise. The grand total has been shown as 3949 out of which there has been a deduction of 149 on the ground of duplication and again 70 names have been added. This is how the figure of 3870 has been reached. There still appears to be an arithmetical error in the totalling of the number. The correct number should be 3874.
A copy of the list supplied by the CJC was made over to the Delhi Administration with a direction that the same may be checked up and comments as to its correctness or acceptability should be filed. In compliance with the direction Delhi Administration has filed its comments alongwith an affidavit of Shri Bhatia, Joint Secretary (Home).
The First Information Reports in regard to killings at Delhi put the figure at 1419. As already stated, the Deputy Commissioner of Delhi who had verified the claims has later accepted the number of deaths to be 2307. On a comparative basis of the names disclosed in the FIRs and in the Deputy Commissioner’s list, 315 persons whose names appear in the FIRs do not figure in the Deputy Commissioner’s list.
The list given by the CJ C does not contain full names and all the required particulars for identification. In certain cases, for instance in respect of Delhi Cantt. Police Station, the total number of deaths has been shown to be 368 but as a fact only 320 names have been given. Thus there is no mention of any name for the remaining 48 persons. Again in the list relating to Police Station Tilak Nagar where deaths have been shown to be of 67 persons, only 62 names have been disclosed. Reference to these two Police Stations is illustrative. Possibly, the Committee may not be blamed for this situation. In fact, a clear cut investigation into this aspect of the inquiry is not easy. On the basis of the affidavits the Commission made an attempt to collect the number of deaths but that again appeared to be both difficult as also misleading. In many affidavits names of the killed have not been specified. There are several affidavits which refer to the same deaths. Again, many deaths are not covered by any affidavits. In such a situation affidavits do not provide a sound basis for determining the number of people killed during the riots. It is in evidence that hundreds of the people so killed were burnt while they were half dead or while they were in an unconscious state or had already died. The DSGMC has specified in written arguments names of 73 people who were burnt alive, 7 who were burnt after they had become unconscious and 13 persons who were burnt after they have died. There is evidence that hundreds of charred bodies were recovered. These obviously and also those that had been burnt were not subjected to postmortem. If postmortem on other dead bodies had been made the postmortem figure itself would have provided a sound basis for determining the number of dead people. It is a fact that Delhi has a lot of floating population and hundreds of Sikh people from Punjab keep visiting Delhi every now and then on account of proximately and business activities, sight-seeing and other family necessities. There have been many affidavits before the Commission where reference to such visiting, guests to have been affected during the riots has been made. Similarly, every now and then a number of regular residents of Delhi go over to Punjab . On the basis of ration cards where the total number of members of every card holder family is indicated, proper calculation cannot be made because there are several people residing in Delhi who are not card holders. There are ghost ration cards in existence and ration cards also do not reflect the exact number of people in the family. Many people who had gone over to Punjab did not return soon after the riots on account of the continuing disturbed conditions. All these circumstances have made the inquiry for ascertaining the definite number of people who died difficult. The number has , however, to be somewhere between 3870 (arithmetically corrected to be 3874) and 2307 — the higher figure coming from the Committee and the lower figure having been admitted by the Delhi Administration. Placed in this situation , the Commission has not endeavoured to ascertain the exact number of people who died during the riots. Simultaneously, it is a fact that the matter cannot be taken as concluded until the exact number is ascertained by a further inquiry. Death gives rise to definite consequences and brings in certain considerations. As already found, the next of kin become entitled to a compensation of Rs. 20,000; the recommendations of the Commission may bring about certain other benefits, and if there be a widow or dependent relations left behind, she is or they are entitled to certain advantages. It is quite likely that in some cases the next of kin may not have come forward to raise a claim on the basis of death. The manner in which the Delhi Administrat ion has been changing the figure by conceding the claim leads the Commission to accept the position that if there be a further probe and of a closer type, it is quite likely that the number may increase. Keeping these aspects in view the Commission recommends that instead of accepting a definite number as the final list, the matter should be kept open for further examination where the number shall not go below 2307 and may not go beyond 3874. But in between the exact number should be ascertained. The modality for ascertaining this should be by the appointment of an officer with full powers to go into the matter and he should give public notice to invite claims of death within the Union Territory of Delhi during the period of riots (October 31 to Novermber 7, 1984) by fixing a time for raising of claims and also a date for finalising the same in accordance with a procedure behoving the rules of natural justice and the figure should be determined. As and when any new name is added to the already accepted list of 2307 by the Delhi Administration, the benefits contemplated in respect of the dead people should be extended to the next of kin. Since delay might make the inquiry not beneficial the modality proposed in the recommendation may be implemented without delay and a time-frame should be prescribed.