Following the Supreme Court rap, Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday amended the controversial notification providing Rs 5 lakh as financial assistance to only the Muslim families that were affected during the communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts last month.
Special secretary home Arun Kumar Mishra told reporters that the amended notification had been issued in which the word “Muslim displaced family” has been replaced by “displaced family”. The notification was issued on October 26, 2013.
Following a representation by president Jamiat Ulema Hind Maulana Arshad Madni last month, the Samajwadi Party government had granted an exclusive Rs 90-crore relief package for the affected Muslim families in the two districts.
Madni had asked for financial assistance to those families, which were not willing to return to their villages because of fear. The government rushed to grant the money, apparently to assuage the feelings of Muslims who are seen as the party’s vote bank.
Many Muslim leaders had said Samajwadi Party and BJP had joined hands to engineer the riots for electoral gains and blamed Akhilesh Yadav government for failing to save Muslims who bore the brunt of the clashes.
A section of Jat community, whose members were involved in the clashes, however, challenged the “religion-based” notification in the apex court.
Taking serious note of the notification, a bench of chief justice P Sathasivam and justices Ranjana P Desai and Ranjan Gogoi took a serious exception to the notification and found fault in favouring one community over the other in the distribution of relief money.
Observing relief and rehabilitation could not be denied on the grounds of religion, the bench on November 22 directed the state government to take remedial measures.
While amending the notification, the state government has also placed a strong rider—if the beneficiaries go to their villages and homes, they will have to return the money and if they fail to do so, the government will recover the money like land revenue.
In the earlier notification, it was not spelled out whether the relief money will be recovered or not if the riot victims returned to their homes. The financial assistance had been granted on the ground that since the people were unwilling to return to their villages because of fear, they could rehabilitate themselves elsewhere.