Vishwa Yuvak Kendra
New Delhi-110 021
Dear Dr. Alexander,
On behalf of the Citizens’ Commission consisting of myself and the following:
SIRI GOVIND NARAIN – Former Governor, Karnataka and former Home Secretary
SHRI RAJESHWAR DAYAL – Former Foreign Secretary
SHRI B. F. H.B. TYABJI – Former Commonwealth Secretary and former Vice-Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University
SHRI T.C.A. SRINIVASVARADAN – Former Home Secretary
I am enclosing a note prepared by us drawing the attention of the Government to the most urgent steps that in our view are required to give a sense of re-assurance to the victims of the recent atrocities in Delhi to enable them to settle down and earn their livelihood as self-respecting members of our society.
We should like you to be good enough to submit this note to the Prime Minister and arrange a very early meeting of the Commission with him.
Sd/- S.M. SIKRI
Former Chief Justice of India
DR. P. C. ALEXANDER,
Principal Secretary to
the Prime Minister,
New Delhi-110 Oil.
End: as above,
Regarding the serious incidents of murder, arson, loot, etc. arising out of the breakdown of law and order in Delhi from 31 October to 4 November 1984.
We have visited several affected areas and seen for ourselves the results of the breakdown of law and order in Delhi between 31 October 1984 and 4 November 1984. We have spoken to a large number of the victims of the ensuing disorder, lawlessness, rapine, loot, rape and murder. We have also discussed the existing situation with a representative number of workers of various voluntary organisations actively engaged in relief work in dispelling the feeling of panic, insecurity and helplessness prevailing among those affected, and in bringing hope, and promoting a feeling of solidarity between them and the rest of Indian society.
In the light of this, and our own past experience in dealing with similar situations, we venture to make the following recommendations for the immediate consideration of the Government:
Those persons against whom prima facie evidence exists for having committed or instigated heinous crimes should not be allowed to remain at large. Some of them were arrested by the police, but have been released on bail and are still spreading terror in their areas. Their movements should be severely restrained and closely supervised, if they cannot be put behind bars, till they are properly tried in a court of law. Special courts should be set up for the purpose. Election propaganda needs also to be scrutinised and if necessary restrained from this point of view.
The various forms required to be filled in by the victims for securing relief for loss of life or destruction of property, etc., are required to be verified by local residents. Often, persons accused of having committed crimes and spreading terror and who, in any case, have lost their credibility are the very people who are asked to verify these claims. This is obviously absurd. Equally so is the insistence on the production of death certificates from the families of murdered kinsmen, husbands, etc. The verification work should be entrusted to impartial persons of unquestionable credibility. We have come across many cases in which claims for loss of life or destruction of property have not been verified and consequently rejected in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Immediate measures are required to be taken for the relief and rehabilitation of the large number of widows with small children left without any adult male member in the family to support them. We welcome the announcement appearing in the press on behalf of the Lt. Governor that some camps near the original residences are being established for this purpose. We should like to stress that widows belonging to one locality should not be separated from each other or from their fellow victims from that area. As far as possible they should be kept together because that will give them a sense of reassurance, security and psychological relief. Suitable work and training programmes should be provided for them together with arrangements for the education of their children.
Those whose houses have been made uninhabitable will need suitable dwelling places. We understand that some DDA flats in areas close to the original residences are available, which should be allotted to the homeless until they are either able to repair their homes or make other arrangements.
Those who have lost their means of livelihood need immediate relief for starting their vocations. Many vehicles of auto-rickshaw drivers and truck owners have been destroyed. Most of these vehicles were insured only against third party risks while the few that were insured comprehensively were not covered against civil commotion. Therefore they will not receive any compensation from the insurance companies. In such cases, interest-free loans should be arranged by the Government to procure new vehicles. Similarly, those who have lost their shops or other sources of business should be enabled to get loans at a concessional rate of interest. 6. The present criteria for granting relief are grossly inadequate for meeting the needs of the very large number of afflicted people. These should be revised on a realistic basis.
We seek a very early audience with the Prime Minister to put before him the above points; and to propose that he may set up immediately a high powered Committee comprising a member of his cabinet and senior representatives of the ministries concerned including the finance ministry, with full powers and authority to take final decisions on all matters coming up before it. The Committee should be empowered to issue mandatory directions to all concerned to ensure the prompt and speedy implementation of their recommendations.