Thursday, July 25, 2013

Compensate Railways for loss in 2011 stir, SC tells Haryana
Team set up to ensure return of families that fled Mirchpur
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent
New Delhi, July 24
The Supreme Court today directed the Haryana’s Claims Commissioner to pass an order within four weeks on the Railways’ claim for a compensation of about Rs 34 crore for the loss suffered during a ‘rail roko’ stir at Jind for 11 days from January 15-26 in the year 2011.


A Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and Gopala Gowda asked the Railways to submit its claim within four weeks and the Claims Commissioner, retired District and Sessions Judge RC Bansal, to consider it and pass an order within four weeks thereafter.
The Bench passed the order after hearing arguments on a PIL filed by some victims of the anti-Dalit violence that took place at Mirchpur village in Hisar district on April 21, 2010.
Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, who appeared for the petitioners, contended that the ‘rail roko’ agitation had been launched to demand the release of about 100 accused persons who had been prosecuted for the violence. This was disputed by Additional Advocate General (AAG) Manjit Singh Dalal, who said it was part of a larger agitation by the Jat community in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh seeking job quota.
According to the Railways, it suffered a loss of Rs 33.95 crore due to the agitation in Haryana. Of this, Rs 32 crore was accounted for by freight earning and about Rs 1.83 crore by passenger earning. The haulage loss was assessed at Rs 5.15 lakh and the damage to railway property at Rs 7.23 lakh.
Dalal, however, maintained that it was the duty of the Railway Protection Force to guard the railway property during agitations and prevent losses. It was not the responsibility of the state police.
The SC also set up a team comprising government officials, a law officer and an expert from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, to find ways and means to ensure the return and rehabilitation of about 150 families that had fled Mirchpur village following the April 2010 violence.
Dalal assured the Bench that the state government was willing to resume free supply of foodgrains to the Mirchpur victims and continue it till further orders by the apex court. The government would also provide work to the victims under the employment guarantee scheme.
The state, however, made it clear that it was not willing to resettle the victims somewhere outside Mirchpur as it would “amount to destroying the social fabric woven through centuries.”
In an affidavit filed in the SC, Home Secretary Ramesh Kishan also said “there is absolute peace and social harmony in Mirchpur. There is no threat perception to the Dalit families living in Mirchpur or elsewhere. Peace, harmony and the feeling of brotherhood have been restored in the village. The state machinery is ever ready and endeavouring to uphold the majesty of law.”
Senior counsel Gonsalves however pleaded for their resettlement outside Mirchpur as they were scared of returning to their village.
This prompted the Bench to set up the committee to assess the situation and suggest a solution within four weeks. The President of the Hisar District Legal Aid Service Committee would be the law officer of the committee.
Tara Chand, a 70-year-old Dalit, and his physically-challenged daughter had been killed in the April 2010 violence by a mob that also set ablaze the houses of the Balmiki community. In October 2011, a Delhi court convicted 15 persons for attacking the Dalits and sentenced three of them to life term and five persons to imprisonment for varying periods, the maximum being five years. The convicts have challenged the verdict in the Delhi High Court.
Loss pegged at Rs 34 crore
  • The Railways claims it suffered a loss of `33.95 crore due to a ‘rail roko’ stir at Jind for 11 days in January 2011
  • The petitioners contended that the agitation had been launched to demand the release of about 100 accused persons who had been prosecuted for the Mirchpur violence of 2010
  • This was disputed by Haryana Additional Advocate General MS Dalal, who said it was part of a larger agitation by the Jat community in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh seeking job quota
  • He maintained it was the Railway Protection Force’s duty to guard railway property during agitations and not of the state police

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