An increasing number of bureaucrats in Delhi hailing from Jammu and Kashmir are refusing to go back to their home state after retirement fearing threats to life and property.
Going by the number of petitions in the Delhi High Court, filed by such officials against the Government Estate Officer’s order to vacate their official accommodation, the trend seems to be on the rise.
At least 23 such suits are pending, out of which the court has already granted interim relief to three petitioners who benefited from a Supreme Court order in 1998.
Last week, V.A. Magazine, senior official with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, got a favourable decree with the court staying the order of the Directorate of Estate asking him to vacate his quarters in R K Puram. Magazine, who was a director (Commercial and Sales) in the Ministry of I&B retired on September 30, 2007, after 36 years.
Magazine submitted before Justice Sunil Gaur that his house in Srinagar was burnt down in 1996, when he was posted in Delhi, and now it was impossible for him to go back and rebuild it, given the pathetic law and order situation in the Kashmir valley.
While working as a sub editor with All India Radio, between 1971 and 1975, Magazine was looking after the counter propaganda to combat the media propaganda of Pakistan. “Terrorists have always targeted journalists, especially working in the government media. Kindly direct the estate officer to permit me to retain the government accommodation till it is possible for me to return to Srinagar or till suitable alternate accommodation is made available,” he urged the court.
Considering the “peculiar facts and circumstances of the case”, Justice Gaur directed the estate officer and the I & B Ministry to decide Magazine’s representation by September 18 and allowed him to retain his present accommodation till then.
B.L. Wali, the lawyer for most petitioners, said: “Such petitions were being filed in Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi high courts since many years but the judges were reluctant to intervene. Things changed when the Supreme Court, while dealing with an appeal in 1998, stated that till the time Jammu and Kashmir Government gives in writing that the life and property of these petitioners are safe in the valley, they should not be evicted from the government accommodation.”
Last year, P.K. Handoo, an Intelligence Bureau official, had approached the HC with a similar plea and obtained a stay against his eviction from the government quarter here after retirement. He had told the court that he “was one of the prime targets of the terrorists” owing to his IB job and also because his brother worked with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Handoo’s aunt and maternal uncle had already fallen victim to terrorism.
Earlier this year, one B.L. Pandit, an official who retired from the BSF, got a similar relief from the court. He did not want to go back to his native place till the situation became “congenial”.