Mr. Arvind Kejriwal
Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi
Mr. Manish Sisodia,
Deputy Chief Minister,
Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi
Subject: Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation in North East Delhi
Memorandum of Demands to the Delhi Government
The communal violence in north east Delhi that took place in the last week of February is the most disgraceful event in the recent history of the city. Scores of people have lost their lives and thousands are displaced. The observations and evidence from the last three weeks suggest that the violence was not sporadic, but was organized and targeted particularly at Muslim residents in various colonies of the area. There are serious question marks on the role of the Delhi Police during the whole affair. An unbiased and thorough investigation in the matter is necessary to bring the guilty to book.
Based on observations and initial attempts at data collection from the last three weeks, the scale of devastation (material and human costs) is understood to be huge and merits a detailed assessment. While community members have been generous in opening their homes to fleeing families and civil society efforts have tried to fill in for immediate relief, the state government needs to step in to address the concerns of the affected people. There are two reasons for this. One, the crisis is the result of a state failure and has resulted in grave deprivation among the citizenry. The state thus has a moral and administrative duty to compensate and rehabilitate those affected in a compassionate and humane way. Two, the scale of the crisis is such that only the state can address it. Civil society and community effort should not be seen as a substitute for what is the state’s responsibility. While the state government had been conspicuous by its absence in the first three days of the violence, it has been trying to coordinate relief efforts since. A comprehensive plan needs to be put in place with short, medium and long term targets for which the state must take responsibility and invite non-state actors from community organisations to individual citizens that are willing to lend support to such a state led process.
The current design of relief and compensation efforts should continue and deepen, but also begin to lay a foundation for longer term rehabilitation processes that must follow. It is important to regain the trust of people and for the state government to be genuinely accountable in this hour of need.
Whilst we welcome the announcement by the Delhi Government towards the rehabilitation of the riot victims of North East Delhi (as per news report in Hindustan Times, 12th March 2020), we urge the government to consider the following points which require immediate attention, which would enable progress on Relief, Rehabilitation & Reconciliation. We write in order to suggest ways to improve and sustain current relief efforts, and to begin to initiate longer term rehabilitation.
Whilst incidents and threat of violence in the area have reduced over the last three weeks, we sincerely believe that it would take a few weeks/months before the families deprived of their homes and current livelihoods are able to find new employment opportunities, and alternate sources of income to manage their household. We therefore request the State to weigh these concerns raised above and in the true spirit of rehabilitation efforts, extend the relief efforts till at least the 30th of September 2020. In this time, temporary housing and relief camps will have to be continued and expanded.
A committee of select state government officers, headed by the Dy Chief Minister needs to be formed to monitor this extended relief and rehabilitation process and ensure a planned, time bound and accountable process of rehabilitation. Two civil society representatives should also be a part of this committee. Delhi must set an example for how to rebuild broken lives. We recommend the following processes be under this committee:
- As on date, there is only one functional relief camp in the city – Idgah, Mustafabad (under the aegis of the Waqf Board) which is housing violence affected families from the vicinity. The choice of leaving the camp should be with the families and they should not be asked to do so by the government, unless it provides alternate accommodation.
- There should be adequate supply of relief material, especially food, at the Idgah camp as well as in each and every locality affected by violence.. Each member of a family must be treated as a Ration Cardholder, instead of each family being treated as a Ration Card Holder, for the purposes of distribution of relief in violence affected localities. Each member of the family/Ration card holder must be treated at par with an Antodaya Ration Card Holder and be provided 35 kgs of rice and wheat. The Government must ensure the provision of pulses, cooking oil, soaps and sanitary pads to each Ration Card Holder.
- Fair Price Shops currently in place under PDS must serve as collection centers for ration, baby food and essential supplies.
- The State Government must make arrangements to ensure that everyone is able to access their PDS rations through multiple means such as arranging for people to take turns to come and collect their rations so as to not crowd the shops, facilitate home delivery and so on. The Delhi Government must build on and enhance its flagship scheme of ‘Doorstop Delivery of Public Services’ to ensure urgent and immediate delivery of essential supplies in violence affected areas. Civil society organisations have been working in the area, providing relief material as per their information, but their efforts are wearing out and they cannot match the capacity of the state, nor relieve the state of its responsibility of meeting everyday needs of violence affected families.
- Should the camp be insufficient or untenable within the current Coronavirus containment procedures, the state must ensure that families have adequate alternate options, including supporting temporary rental or alternate transit accommodations where social distancing is feasible. It is recommended that the state engage alternate sites of accommodation where some families from Idgah can be shifted, reducing the pressure on just one site, and consider shifting the people to government-owned rented accommodations, also ensuring their security. Provision of relief materials and accommodation must be dealt with as essential services of the state.
- The Provision of IDs and documents lost in the violence must occur at this stage and could be processed through the camps themselves.
- The State Government must prepare a list of all those families whose FIRs registered reflect looting and burning of houses, and every such household must be provided with gas cylinders to resume their kitchens.
The Delhi Government has taken a positive step in revising the compensation amounts (Revenue Department, GNCT of Delhi order F.1(87)/Relief/Building Collapse 2010/2663 (dated 05.03.2020)) and categories to facilitate the process. However, field assessments show that several kinds of losses are still not factored or addressed by the compensation scheme and in several instances, the compensation amount is found to be wanting. Moreover, it was very disappointing to observe that although the initial payment of INR 25,000 has been made in some cases, it has still not reached a large number of victims. There is a critical need to make the process of payment of compensation time-bound. The State Government also needs to adopt a responsible and proactive approach in terms of collecting claims for compensation payments and organize camps for the same. The State Government must establish, notify and communicate a complaints redressal mechanism for applicants to register complaints faced by them in filing and submitting claims for compensations, have their complaints redressed within a stipulated time frame and track the status of redress of their grievances. Please see Annexure 1 for a comprehensive note covering all aspects of the compensation process (submitted to Chief Minister and Dy Chief Minister on 11/03/20). We highlight some of them below.
- Need to create additional categories for compensation for which compensation should be payable. In particular, the government should set up a mechanism to assess the loss of household valuables like kitchen utensils, appliances, savings in the form of cash and jewelry, etc. and a way to compensate people for that loss.
- Revise quantum of claim upwards where needed
- No time-limit for making claims since many people left Delhi in the aftermath of the violence and may need to come back in order to make claims for damage sustained.
- The guidelines for payment of compensation for tenants and owners of houses has created a competitive incentive structure, which has resulted in a situation where owners are denying the claims of compensation due to tenants in several cases. Many families that lived as tenants in the areas affected by violence do not have documents to prove their residency. The criteria of claims for tenants, needs to be reiterated and the officers conducting the verification process need to be strictly advised on this count. A grievance redressal processes that specifically monitors exclusion of tenants would be a welcome step.
- The initial compensation of INR 25,000 has been administered in several cases, but there have been several cases pointed out where this initial payment of compensation is still pending. We strongly urge the State Government to comply with a deadline of 21 days within which compensation claims should be met with.
- Similarly, the State Government needs to provide a deadline of 21 days by which compensation claims need to be processed for industrial losses. The violence targeted enterprises that provided employment to several people. It is imperative that they be given an assurance of timely compensation to help restart their operations.
- Processing of claims should be completed in a time bound and accountable manner. The state has already received a substantial volume of compensation forms and verification data. The Government must make public the list of applicants for compensation and the status of verification and disbursal of each. The Government is mandated to do so as per Section 4 (1) (b) of proactive disclosure of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Given the increased vulnerability that individuals have been subject to on account of the violence, the state should provide this data, with limited disclosure of names and addresses of the claimants, to ensure their safety. Such transparency will also aid others in supporting the state to ensure that no genuine claimants are excluded.
- The Government must immediately set up a complaints redressal mechanism which is non-partisan and transparent and is geared to simultaneously begin taking the cases of those who have been declined compensation on various grounds. The complaint redressal mechanism must contain at least the following minimum components and Lok Adalats should be involved in the process :
- A dedicated helpline and toll free number to receive and record complaints related to cases of rejected claims, delayed claims and inaccessible claims. This number needs to be adequately publicized to ensure that maximum number of citizens are aware and are assured that they will be heard
- Set up desks at multiple locations for citizens to register complaints faced by them in filing and submitting claims for compensations
- Stipulated time periods within which each complaint must be redressed and responded to
- System for citizens to track the status of action of claims for compensation
3. Legal Assistance and Information
There is a burgeoning need for documentation of the violence and its aftermath in the area. This is particularly so because of the questionable role of the Delhi Police in the violence that took place. There are also reports of harassment and intimidation by the police in the aftermath of the violence, on the pretext of investigation. While we strongly support an independent and thorough investigation, there has to be a mechanism in place to prevent harassment and arbitrary detention of people. Following are the suggestions on this count.
- Short term:
- All government-run/aided relief camps must have a full-time government legal aid desk for receiving complaints and as points of information for violence affected people.
- Setting up of a legal aid centre to help with cases of police harassment and arbitrary detention: A team of government lawyers be created for this purpose and a helpline number be publicized for legal assistance where complaints of harassment and arbitrary detentions can be lodged. Delhi State Legal Services Authority should play a proactive role in this regard.
- Medium Term:
- Legal aid teams, along with representatives of civil society organizations who have been providing essential relief and legal assistance in violence affected areas must jointly continue to visit localities to receive complaints from those displaced by the violence living outside camps help in filing police complaints (necessary for filing compensation claims) till such time as the compensation process is not completed. The schedule of visits of these teams to be made public through government announcement.
- Long Term:
- An independent Special Investigation Team be constituted to take charge of the investigation in an unbiased way. This has to take into account allegations and complaints against the Delhi Police.
- The working of the SIT should be monitored by a sitting judge of the High Court of Delhi.
4. Medical and Pyscho-Social Trauma Interventions
There is an immense health cost of the violence that took place. This includes immediate concerns such as treatment of injuries to long term public health effects, ranging from trauma and psychosocial damage and breakdown of trust between state medical functionaries and the residents of the area. Following is a list of important pointers to guide the efforts on the health front. They should be considered as parts of a holistic programme rather than a list to pick and choose from.
- As part of relief: the entire cost of treatment through the course of diagnosis and recovery, for those injured in the violence, should be borne by the government.
- Short Term:
- Free maternity services in the locality – this is particularly required due to the lack of proper health facilities in the region and lack of trust in GTB hospital due to untoward experiences with the police and the physicians. A 24*7 maternity clinic should be built in the area.
- OPD services – currently OPD services are being provided by NGOs in an uncoordinated fashion, through temporary medical camps. The state government should provide sustainable and continuous primary care in the area. This need is again compounded by the apprehensions about visiting hospitals far from the area.
- Setting up of Primary Care Center (or Mohalla Clinic) and maternity homes in the areas as the existing healthcare infrastructure is poor and incapable of coping with the long run medical needs resulting from the violence.
- Physical therapy – There have been a lot of injuries which will require 6-12 weeks of rehabilitation. Physiotherapy services with the provision of outreach should be provided for at least 6-12 weeks.
- Psychosocial care – In the aftermath of the riots, a significant proportion of the population will suffer from anxiety, depression, extended grief and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The state should provide both psychiatric and psychological services with the provision of outreach. These services for the victims should be provided for at least 18-24 months.
- Rehabilitation of the incarcerated – Allegedly, around a 1000 people have been detained in the investigation proceedings after the riots so far. This number is likely to increase. Once released, most of them will need psychosocial rehab. Counselling services should be provided to them.
- Many of the localities affected by the violence have closed down schools and anganwadicentres, particularly due to the magnified risk of COVID-19. Arrangements must be made to home-deliver the nutrition/meals to all the target groups including young children, pregnant and lactating mothers. Take home rations in the form of eggs, pulses, oil and other items can be provided. The Supreme Court has also taken suo moto cognisance of this issue and on 18th March issued an order stating that “it is necessary that all the states should come out with a uniform policy so as to ensure that while preventing the spread of Covid-19, the schemes for providing nutritious food to the children and nursing and lactating mothers are not adversely affected.”
- Long Term:
- Medical practitioners have noted that water pipes were broken in the violence, at times systematically. Combined with a generally poor level of sanitation in the area, this may lead to water contamination with Salmonella, leading to recurring typhoid infections. Fixing these pipes at the earliest and provision of water purification systems in the community are a must to prevent any such outbreak of disease. Monitoring of water quality should be conducted for the next 6 months.
- We acknowledge that several doctors and medical staff, including paramedics and ambulance drivers, at government hospitals have done a commendable job in trying conditions. However, re-building trust between the community and the doctors of GTB hospital, as it is the major hospital in the area is very important. Very important to re-establish confidence in the community through proactive outreach and efforts by the hospital and its staff.
- Training of doctors and nurses in providing compassionate, empathetic care in crisis situations.
5. Implications of the COVID-19
The spread of the COVID–19 pandemic is a serious cause of concern for the violence affected areas. The area as such is dense and with poor public infrastructure. In light of this, families living in the Idgah camp are at great risk of being affected. At the same time, the space of the camp provides a sense of security to families who cannot go back to their localities as yet. Instead of any knee jerk reaction, the state must engage the community in finding solutions to this situation and support the arrangement that the affected families find most secure. It could consider these options to meet its responsibility of providing relief and rehabilitation to the victims in the context of this public health emergency.
- Engage alternate sites of accommodation where some families from Idgah can be shifted, reducing the pressure on just one site
- Shift the people to government-owned rented accommodations, also ensuring their security.
- Economic Response:
- As part of the city wide economic response to COVID-19, special care needs to be taken to accomodate the needs of those recognised as ‘riot-affected’. The government must recognise the special vulnerability of this category of people and take necessary measures. This covers all those who have reported home or livelihood loss due to the violence.
- The survival amount of INR 25,000 needs to be extended on a monthly basis to such households (including both, tenant and owners of shops and houses reportedly damaged). See Section E of Annexure 1.
- Preventive Measures:
Constant awareness raising, provision of hand washing and sanitizing facilities, disinfecting and thermal screening at all sites where violence affected families/individuals are housed. On-site doctors to monitor temperatures and answer queries.
6. Livelihoods Interventions
Based on our observations and surveys with those affected/displaced by the violence, we find that most people were either self-employed or wage workers. They earned their livelihoods through the informal economy (Rickshaws/E-Rickshaws, Autos, Taxis, Street Vendors, Small retailers, micro enterprise owners, home based workers, manual labourers, etc.) A large number of them are also migrants who have fled the area because of safety and lack of work owing to the violence. Some concrete suggestions to rehabilitate these livelihoods are noted here and to be found in detail in Annexure 2.
- A comprehensive survey and needs-based assessment of asset loss, extent of loss of wage income, property damage and other factors must be conducted by the State Government along with representatives of civil society organizations who have been providing essential relief and assistance in violence affected areas. This must classify different types of informal work and an inventory of unique needs for each. The government can take the assistance of organisations specialising in employment and informal livelihoods for this purpose.
- Announce both interim and long-term relief and rehabilitation measures for formal and informal workers who have been affected in the recent violence by ensuring increased accessibility to the relief measures. The first kind of relief must be compensating for asset losses in enterprises and small manufacturing units; for own account workers like e-rickshaw, auto and taxi drivers, vendors and home-based workers. The second must be compensation for wage losses for wage and service workers such as construction workers, domestic workers, and daily wage workers, among others.
- The urban and rural informal workers of violence affected areas will need greater support because their livelihoods are likely to be hit the hardest with the additional stress of COVID 19. Each urban unorganized-sector worker should be given at least Rupees Three Thousand cash transfer per month for the period of the crisis. We welcome the UP Government’s decision to ensure the livelihood of daily wage earners in the government by transferring money using the real time gross settlement (RTGS) system directly into their accounts, and strongly recommend proactive measures by the states to register the unregistered among the urban informal workers.
Ensuring the involvement of workers’ unions and civil society representatives in all survey and impact assessment efforts will aid the efficacy of this work and ensure transparency and fairness. Further, the State can work with these organisations to rebuild economic infrastructure, ensuring alternative employment opportunities for daily wage labourers and migrant labourers who have lost access to livelihood.
7. Skilling and Education
A particular aspect of the violence unleashed in North East Delhi was the targeting of schools (both government and private) by assailants. The destruction of the education infrastructure has had a deep impact on the children and youth of the area who have lost safe spaces attached to their future aspirations. As part of its rehabilitation work, the Delhi Government must ensure the rebuilding of all damaged schools, start skill-building sessions, and also ensure the re-opening of Anganwadis in the area. We recommend the following steps to endure this –
- The violence in North East Delhi also coincided with the 10th& 12th Board Examinations, 2020. Where CBSE exams have been rescheduled for all students to post 31st March due to the COVID 19 epidemic we observe that the violence impacted children face harsher adversities such as loss of books and other school material, admit cards, and mental trauma due to the violence they witnessed and displacement from their homes and neighbourhoods. We recommend that these children be identified and reached out to and provided counselling, school material, and tuition support to stem dropouts in the area.
- Anganwadi’s are an important social infrastructure which has been impacted in this violence with many anganwadis still being shut in the weeks following the violence. We recommend that the Government ensure safety of the anganwadi workers and the anganwadisos that they may begin to function again.
- The Government, through its Delhi Skill Development Program (DSDP), Ministry of Social Welfare, needs to thoroughly assess requirements and train both men and women affected through appropriate skill training programs, so as to ensure “build back better than earlier” livelihoods.
- Adequate Skill training programs for children/adolescents NOK (Next of Kin) to pursue independent livelihoods needs to be planned by the DSDP. Additionally, there is a need for programs for the girl child/adolescent NOK, with necessary support provided to complete formal education and skill training to pursue livelihoods.
- In addition to the ex-gratia support to the NOK of those killed in the riots, it is recommended that a life-long pension support of Rs. 10,000 per month be provided to widows to ensure a life of dignity. Suitable interventions on Skill training and Livelihood to be provided to enable independent livelihoods
- Special Education support to school/college going children/ adolescent NOK of those killed in riots. In addition to support in tuition fees, it is requested that a stipend of Rs. 1,500 (School going) – Rs. 3,000 (College going) per month, be provided till the education of the child/adolescent is completed.
8. Reconciliation, Reparation & Communal Harmony
Reconciliation is the basis for a rehabilitation process and is fundamental to rebuilding trust and inter-community confidence. We make the following submissions towards this end.
- The constitution of a Committee for Peace & Harmony by the Delhi Government is commendable to begin the process of reconciliation between both the communities on an immediate basis. This effort should be made more grassroots through the setting up of “Mohalla Aman” committees in riot affected areas, led by local community leaders and civil society members.
- The propagation of fake news and hate speech circulated through WhatsApp and other social media needs to be curbed and controlled. We understand that the Committee for Peace & Harmony has initiated an awareness program to curb fake news. The campaign needs to be continuously monitored, including setting up of a dedicated “Help line number” which needs to be widely propagated through social media, print and radio to create further awareness.
- The State Government must plan for a reparation policy for those individuals and families who have been affected by the violence, physically, emotionally and financially. The Reparation Policy must align with minimum standards laid down internationally. It should be drawn up and operationalized in collaboration with a panel of eminent civil society representatives consisting of former Judges, Bureaucrats, Activists, Academicians and Journalists to ensure the highest standards of credibility and ethics.
The longer term processes of economic and social rehabilitation also require area-based upgrading of the built environment, infrastructure and services in these already underserved neighbourhoods that have further suffered significant physical and material losses in both public and private structures. Spatial rebuilding can be a process that anchors and integrates the livelihood and social rebuilding of these neighbourhoods.
- Time bound investigation into damaged properties and sealing of structures that need repairing and rebuilding.
- Security of these structures against illegal occupation, while its erstwhile residents remain displaced, to be a responsibility of the state. Displaced people reported visit their properties everyday to make sure no kabza or illegal occupation takes place.
- A comprehensive scheme of physical and spatial rebuilding riot-affected neighbourhoods with stronger and better services and infrastructure through an area-based approach to upgrading these neighbourhoods that anyway needed such state investment. Many of these neighbourhoods are recently regularised colonies, and therefore legible for infrastructure and service upgrading. These would focus on municipal and state services such as water supply, sanitation, sewerage, drainage roads and street lights; but also integrate with the provision of public services such as new social and economic infrastructure at community level. This spatial upgrading can anchor a lot of the livelihood and social rebuilding processes as well and rebuild community confidence in state action. Such action must include the repair and rebuilding of places of worship.
- A strict monitoring of sale or purchase of commercial and residential properties in the area till such time as the rebuild process takes. This is necessary to avoid distress sales and the incursion of the land mafia as has been witnessed in the aftermath of riots previously. This will prevent a plunge in property prices. Transfer of titles should be strictly monitored during this time period.
(Relief and Documentation Volunteers working in North East Delhi)
Ananya, Anup Agarwal, Apoorva G, Avinash Kumar, Naveen Chander, Priyanka Singh, Rafi M, RasheeMehra, RichaJairaj, Samita Chatterjee, Usman Jawed, VidyunSabhaney
Contact Details: 8010833325, 9953947739, 9013074978
- Annexure 1 – Urgent Issues on Compensation For Violence Affected Persons (dated 11.03.20)
- Annexure 2 – Letter to Chief Minister on livelihood interventions (dated 06.03.20)
- Mr Vijay Kumar Dev, Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi
- Mr Gopal Rai, Minister, Government of NCT of Delhi
- Mr Rajendra Pal Gautam, Minister, Government of NCT of Delhi
|1||Abha Dev Habib||Miranda House,
of Social Sciences
Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bangalore
|5||Achin Vanaik||Professor of
Political Science (retd.), Delhi University
Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bangalore
Centre for Study of Developing Societies
|8||AgyatMitra||Play for Peace,
Scholar, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Secretary, All India Trade Union Congress
|11||Amarjeet Kaur||General Secretary, All India Trade Union Congress|
Modern Indian Languages, Delhi University
|14||Amrita Nandy||Writer and
(retd.), Delhi University
Federation of Indian Women
of Science, Bangalore
Jawaharlal Nehru University
|26||Bhasha Singh||Senior Journalist, New Delhi|
Consultant and Farmer, Assam
College, Delhi University
|29||Dr Shah Alam||Professor, All
India Institute of Medical Sciences
|32||Harsh Mandar||Social Activist|
Miranda House, Delhi University
|35||Justice A P Shah||Former Chief
Justice, Delhi High Court
|36||Jyoti Sabharwal||Department of
Germanic and Romance Studies, Delhi University
|37||Kavita Krishnan||All India
Progressive Women’s Association
|41||Malavika Narayan||Urban Researcher|
|42||Mary John||Professor, CWDS|
College (Evening), Delhi University
|44||Megha Rawat||Tata Institute
of Social Science
|45||Mukul Manglik||Professor, Delhi
|46||Najma Rehmani||Professor, Delhi
|47||Nandini Sundar||Professor, Delhi
Development Research Centre
|51||Nivedita Menon||Professor, JNU|
Journalist, New Delhi
Campaign for Dalit Human Rights
Shraddhanand College, Delhi University
|56||Prabhu Mahapatra||Professor, Delhi
Chancellor, Ashoka University
|59||Rahul Roy||Not In My Name
|60||RenuBala||Atma Ram Sanatan
Dharma College, Delhi University
College, Delhi University
|62||SabaDewan||Not In My Name
|63||Sachin N||Professor, Dyal
Singh College, Delhi University
|64||Saikat Ghosh||Sri Guru Teg
BahadurKhalsa College, Delhi University
|65||Sanjay Kumar||Professor. St.
|66||Sanjeev Kaushal||Indira Gandhi
Institute of Physical Education & Sports Sciences, Delhi University
|67||Satish Deshpande||Professor, Delhi
Miranda House, Delhi University
|69||Shabman Hashmi||Anhad, New Delhi|
Singh College, Delhi University
|73||Sumit Sarkar||Professor of
History (retd.), Delhi University
|75||SuneetaDhar||Women’s Rights Activist|
|76||Suvrat Raju||International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bangalore|
|77||Swati Bhatt||Play for Peace,
|78||Tanika Sarkar||Professor of
History (retd.), JNU
|81||V S Dixit||Atma Ram Sanatan
Dharma College, Delhi University
Germanic and Romance Studies, Delhi University
|83||Vineet Tiwari||Joshi-Adhikari Institute for Social Sciences|
|84||Vivek Mohan||Delhi College of
Arts and Commerce, Delhi University