The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Assam government to compensate the victims of starvation deaths in a tea estate last year. The government had labelled these deaths ‘natural’.
A delegation of NHRC headed by Justice KG Balakrishnan heard 50 cases pertaining to human rights violation in its camp sitting here on Monday. While closing 17 cases, it recommended Rs 17lakh a monetary relief in the case pertaining to starvation deaths in southern Assam’s Bhuban Valley Tea Estate last year.
Local rights bodies had attributed the death of 14 labourers to starvation induced by a prolonged lockout in the estate. However, a probe ordered by the Cachar district administration said the labourers died of natural causes.
“Of the 14, only one died of some disease while starvation and malnutrition led to the death of the others,” an NHRC spokesperson said. “We have asked the government to pay Rs 2 lakh each to two tea garden workers and Rs 1lakh each to the dependents of 13 labourers who died due to starvation.”
The commission also directed the Assam government to inquire whether the Tea Association of India was distributing highly subsidized food grains properly among the workers or not.
Among the other cases heard on Monday was the rehabilitation of children rendered orphans or destitute in communal riots in eastern Assam, alleged eviction of 6,000 Adivasis by forest officials in western Assam’s Kokrajhar district, denial of basic facilities to the residents of 22 villages in central Assam’s Kamrup district, witch-hunting, deprivation of source of livelihood to 300 families facing eviction and illegal coal mining in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district besides deaths in encounter and custody.