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HC raps Centre on clash refugees

Guwahati, Nov. 28: Gauhati High Court today asked the Centre to explain why people displaced by the Garo-Rabha clashes should not be treated on a par with Sri Lankan Tamil refugees sheltered in India.

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), a division bench of acting Chief Justice A.K. Goel and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan directed the Union government to file an affidavit explaining why the people who were displaced by clashes between the Rabha and Garo communities in Assam and Meghalaya, shall not be treated on a par with Tamil refugees displaced from Sri Lanka and taking shelter in India.

The Centre will have to file its reply by January 9, 2012, which has been fixed as the next date of hearing of the PIL (number 6/2011).

Petitioner’s advocate Sabda Rabha said the ACHR a human rights NGO had filed the PIL seeking appropriate and adequate relief and rehabilitation of internally displaced people in Assam and Meghalaya because of the Garo-Rabha clashes, which broke out in January this year.

“In the PIL, the petitioner has questioned the discriminatory policy of the government towards internally displaced people in the Northeast compared to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees and Kashmiri pandits,” Rabha said.

Around 50,000 Garos and Rabhas in Assam and Meghalaya were displaced by conflicts since January this year.

According to ACHR, in terms of rations at the relief camps, at Jammu and in Delhi, internally displaced persons from Kashmir are given Rs 1,000 per head per month subject to maximum of Rs 4,000 per family per month plus dry ration.

However, the Rabhas and Garos were given one-time compensation of Rs 10,000 per family and only three bundles of tin roof sheets, which is highly discriminatory, the ACHR said.

“Our contention is that Rs 10,000 is too small an amount. Relief is being provided to the victims according to Assam Relief Manual of 1976, which has now become outdated considering the current high rate of inflation in the country,” Rabha said.

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