An application has been moved in the Delhi High Court challenging the closing down of the Idgah Relief Camp in Mustafabad by the Delhi government.
Filed by victims of attack during the Delhi riots, the plea seeks orders directing the Union and Delhi government to re-open the relief camp and immediately make provisions for food & water supplies, sanitation, cleanliness and security.
On two separate occasions, March 20 and 23, the High Court had heard the victims' plea to ensure that cleanliness and hygiene of the camp is maintained and essential public utilities are provided for by the government, especially in wake of the Corona virus pandemic spreading globally. After that, the Court had passed orders directing a number of these steps to be taken to secure the health of the victims and cleanliness of the camp, in addition to ordering provisions of fire engines, ambulances and mobile toilets as well as the availability of counsellors for them. The court even passed orders for the setting up of 3 more such camps in North East Delhi after the Delhi government agreed to this request of the petitioners.
Notwithstanding these orders, allege the petitioners, the Central and State government forced people to leave and closed down the camp arbitrarily. Relying on a report in Indian Express from March 25, the petitioners have communicated their grievance at the manner in which the State cleared out the camp. According to the report, the government claimed that the camp was being cleared out after the Prime Minister announced a lockdown due to the Corona virus outbreak, and that victims were paid a certain amount of money and some ration to go back home, voluntarily. The account of the volunteers at the camp, in this report, however, suggests that plans to clear out the victims were being made for almost a week because it was getting difficult to manage food and healthcare.
Having put this report on record, the plea accuses the government of foul play wherein an attempt to clear the relief camp was pre-planned and the Court had accordingly been grossly misled. The petitioners state that the government counsels were aware of the plan before arguing in Court on March 20 and March 23, and still they hid such information and made promises contrary to their intentions.
It is further urged that the government's stand that the victims departed voluntarily is malafide and "to insist that persons took small amounts of money and some grain and left voluntarily at the very same time as the lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister is disgraceful." Apropos such grievance, the victims have requested the Court to pass orders restricting the government from interfering with the work of NGOs and media people who are trying to provide assistance.
Based on the report by a member of the Delhi Minorities Commission, who visited the site on March 23, the petitioners claim that despite Court orders for maintenance of hygiene and sanitation, garbage is lying everywhere and no cleaning has taken place. Due to non-implementation of the Court's previous order, the petitioner has now asked for a large contingent of cleaning staff from the East Delhi Municipal Corporation to be directed to immediately carry out cleaning of the area "on a war footing".
It has also been alleged that victims have returned home where communal tension still continues and they are living in a constant state of fear. Thus, it is urged, that the families feel insecure as no form of security (police/CRPF) is visible in these areas despite orders. In this light it has been prayed that the government be directed to announce publically (on television and in newspapers) that the camp is open and those seeking refuge are welcome to return. In addition, provisions for doctors and medical care, along with immediately upgrading security around the area have also been sought.
Given the sensitivity of the situation, the petitioners have also prayed for a "responsible person" to be appointed as the Court's Commissioner, who could then visit the relief camp as well as the affected areas, and prepare a report about the prevailing conditions there and make recommendations regarding the steps that could be taken immediately to provide relief.
The plea will be taken up for consideration on Friday, March 27.