700 victims of Delhi riots file claims for damages
The North East Delhi Riots Claims Commission (NEDRCC) which was set up by the Delhi government to evaluate the damage to public property caused during last February’s riots and the recovery process has received 700 applications so far from people affected by the communal clashes.
The commission has also extended the date for filing claims till February 15 from the earlier deadline of January 15. The first deadline for claims was December 31, 2020.
The panel has received applications for compensations against damaged property and deaths or injuries to family members during the riots.
The commission has also received the approval of Delhi’s lieutenant governor (L-G) Anil Baijal for the appointment of a panel of five loss assessors, and their appointment is likely to be completed by the end of the next week, said retired Delhi High Court judge Sunil Gaur, who was appointed the claims commissioner by the high court in March. “The appointment procedure for loss assessors has started and it will be completed soon. The process of assessing the human and property losses in the riots will begin after the scrutiny of all the received applications,” said Gaur.
The court appointed Gaur after the Delhi government wrote to the court registrar general, seeking the appointment of a claims commissioner. This came following Delhi Police’s decision to recover the cost of damages to public and private property during the riots in north-east Delhi from people identified as “rioters”.
A total of 53 people were killed and more than 400 were injured in the riots that ravaged parts of north-east Delhi in February last year. Police have registered 755 cases related to the communal violence.
Initially the commission, having its office at old Delhi Police headquarters at ITO in central Delhi, was receiving applications for compensations against property losses. But when people who were either injured in the riots or had lost their family member(s) also started visiting the commission office for compensation, the claims commissioner allowed the filing of such applications as well.
“We will take deaths or injuries related complaints on priority so families of the deceased can get justice and their compensations first,” said Gaur.
Among the 700 applications for compensation, one claimant, Ikramuddin, has sought a compensation of ₹10 crore against the death of his 19-year-old son Aqib (single name) on February 24. Aqib was out shopping for his sister’s wedding with ₹1,000 he got from his parents, when he received serious head injury in stone pelting during the communal violence in Bhajanpura and succumbed to his injuries in a hospital five days later.
Being the main earning member, Aqib’s death left his six-member family struggling to make ends meet. “We got ₹5 lakh compensation from the government but the money was spent on my daughter’s wedding and returning the loans we had taken for Aqib’s funeral. We have demanded ₹10 crore as compensation as my son would have earned at least this much in his life had he been alive,” said his father Ikramuddin.
Irshad Khan, a resident of Shiv Vihar, was in his first floor rented home with his 12 family members and relatives when alleged rioters set it on fire on February 25. “The blaze destroyed everything in our house, including electronic items, clothes. We were forced to take shelter in a camp set up by the government for families affected by the riots,” said Khan.
Khan’s family received ₹25,000 as compensation. Since the money was not enough to start afresh, the family has moved the NEDRCC and sought compensation of ₹2.5 lakh against the items they lost.
Explaining the commission’s functioning and responsibilities, Gaur said the scrutiny of applications will be done to avoid duplication, since they were handed physically and sent through email, or by post. The ones that do not need the commission’s intervention will be discarded. The scrutinised applications will be given to the loss assessors, who will visit the riot-affected areas, meet the claimants, carry out inspection and verification of the claims, compile their reports, and submit them before the commission.
“The loss assessors will also take into consideration all investigations carried out by agencies, including the police, while verifying the claims and preparing their reports. I will go through their reports before finalising them and submitting them to the Delhi high court. The court would take the final call on the compensation amount,” added the retired judge.