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Riot victims to move Supreme Court to prevent forcible evictions from relief camps
Muzaffarnagar DM office witnesses first leg of protests, signatures of over 500 camp residents collected for PIL to be filed in Supreme Court
Monday January 6, 2014 8:21 PM, Staff Reporter

About 100 riot victims, who were led by lawyer and activist Shehzad Poonwala, on Monday protested at Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate and collected signatures of over 500 victims living in the relief camps to file a petition against the forcible eviction.

Riot Victims protest

[Photo Caption: Lawyer and activist Shehzad Poonawala with riot victims.]

"The protest was staged in the DM Muzaffarnagar Kaushal Raj's office premises. Riot victims from several camps including Barnawi, Jhaula, Manna Majra, Neem Khedi (those displaced from Loi camp) had joined in too", Shehzad Poonwala said while talking to

"A fast was also observed by 100 protesters, who also cleaned the premises after the protest", he said.

"As the news of the fast spread, the DM Muzaffarnagar gave his office a miss. Local authorities including the ADM present were seen informing the DM to give the protesters a slip as they were getting ready to go to his official residence", he added.

Shehzad Poonwala said that his movements were tracked intrusively by the local intelligence unit of Uttar Pradesh. He said he had brought this to the notice of the Chief Minister, DGP, SP Shamli and Ministry of Home Affairs.

Rejecting this as a tactic to intimidate him, Shehzad is visiting different relief camps in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar to take the signatures of over 500 camp inhabitants to a petition addressed to the Chief Justice of India, asking the Supreme Court to treat the same as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to enforce a halt on the forcible eviction of relief camps.

In his petition that Shehzad plans to present before the Supreme Court tomorrow, he said, "Dismantling of the camps and forcible evictions of its inhabitants, without proper identification and payment of compensation, in this bitter cold, would amount to the grossest form of human rights violations especially for the young children population housed in these camps that exceeds 35% of the population as per NGO estimates."

"It would be pertinent to state that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has claimed on record that there was no order to drive the refugee families out of the camps. Further, he is on record to state as on 29th December 2013 that "no one would be forced to leave the camps."

"Thus", he added, "In deference of the orders of the Chief Minister, the UP government should halt all dismantling and evictions."

"Evictions would also undermine the ability of agencies to provide timely and basic relief to the victims who have lost everything including their livelihoods and would force them into starvation, poverty and an uncertain future', he said.

"Hence", he prayed, "No further relief camps that remain in Shamli district (list provided at the end), official or otherwise, be dismantled nor its inhabitants be evicted unless all real victims of riots are identified by a fool proof survey and all deserving victims are given their due compensation, a viable alternate accommodation that protects them from the cold and all other basic essentialities including rations, milk for children, clothing etc."

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