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No aid to 2002 riots-damaged religious places: Gujarat government

Friday April 22, 2011 10:30:45 PM, IANS

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Gandhinagar: The Gujarat government Friday told the state high court that it would not give any financial aid or assistance to the religious places damaged in the 2002 communal riots.

"The government has reconsidered the subject of providing financial aid at the highest level. However, the decision is taken not to pay any financial aid or assistance for repairs or reconstruction," said Under Secretary (law and order) D.R. Patel in an affidavit, submitted by government counsel P.K. Jani to a bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi.

Answering the court's earlier queries as to whether a report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the subject matter has been placed before the parliament and the state assembly, Patel stated that the government has to 'check' whether it has received it or not.

He stated that a letter has been sent to all departments concerned to get the details.

The state government further clarified that the central government, which had provided financial assistance by way of ex-gratia assistance towards relief and rehabilitation programme, has not made any provision to pay damages for the religious structures.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation seeking compensation for the damage caused to the religious structures during the riots. The petition claimed that the government failed to discharge its duty to protect life and property and hence should compensate for the same. The state government counsel, however, contended that the claim is against existing government policy.

According to a survey conducted by the NHRC, 535 religious structures were damaged during the 2002 communal riots in the state. The petitioner contended that the state has constitutional obligation to protect the religious identity of citizens.

The bench ordered state and central government to file affidavits after the petitioner argued that the government should act on the report of the NHRC and they should compensate or rebuild the religious structures damaged in the riots.

The bench has asked the petitioner to address the court on whether it amounts to any breach of human rights if damage is caused to religious structures.

The court has allowed the central government two weeks' time to file its affidavit and the next hearing is likely to be held June 27.
 

 

 

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