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Don’t evict us: J&K babus

As terror attacks continue in Kashmir, the Delhi High Court has questioned Centre’s decision to ask bureaucrats from that state who served in Delhi and just retired, to return to the valley, without taking any steps to ensure their safety.
By Harish V Nair | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 10, 2010 11:24 PM IST

As terror attacks continue in Kashmir, the Delhi High Court has questioned Centre’s decision to ask bureaucrats from that state who served in Delhi and just retired, to return to the valley, without taking any steps to ensure their safety.

They were transferred to Delhi on security grounds. Those who moved the court are 28 Kashmiri central government officials in Delhi, all of them Kashmiri Pandits, who were unable to return to Kashmir due to continued threat perception.

They urged the court to quash the Estate Officer’s order to vacate their government accommodation in Delhi. They blame the government for doing nothing to restore normalcy in Kashmir.

While three among them were IB officials, another is a senior staff member with All India Radio, who ran a pro-India programme to combat media propaganda of Pakistan. Angry ultras have announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh for his head.

Their lawyer B L Wali cited three rulings – two of the Delhi High Court and a recent one by Supreme Court, in their favour. On October 27, 2009, the apex court gave relief to 31 other such applicants.

Identifying them as ‘victims of terrorism’, the SC said till their state can rehabilitate them, “they shall continue to possess government accommodations”.

Convinced that the situation in J&K was still not conducive for their return, Justice Gita Mittal repeatedly asked Centre’s counsel Jatan Singh: “In case I dismiss their petitions, where do they go? Do you have an answer? It is a question of their right to life. Why don’t you bring back normalcy to the state?"

Wali said these officials had been left to fend for themselves after retirement, despite court orders that the Centre had an obligation to ensure their safety.

But the Centre contended those granted relief by the SC were migrants and government employees, who were “illegally holding on to government accommodation”, cannot be treated at par with them.

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