4 January 2002

COURT ASKS CENTRE TO STUDY PLIGHT OF KASHMIRI MIGRANTS

From Jal Khambata

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to rush a team of officers to Jammu to visit the Kashmiri migrant families living in refugee camps in four districts to assess their plight and report back within two weeks as it was not satisfied with the Jammu Divisional Commissioner's report on relief measures.

The Bench of Justice B N Kirpal and Justice Arijit Pasayat passed the order on a petition filed by Jammu and Kashmir Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh, highlighting the pitiable conditions of the migrants who were hardly getting any relief.

This is the second petition of Bhim Singh on which the Court has passed order in the last four days as only last Friday another Bench had stayed the J&K migrants' resettlement Act on his petition, pleading that it would open the floodgates for the terrorists from Pakistan to return to Jammu and Kashmir to reclaim their properties.

"We are not satisfied with the reports received from the Divisional Commissioner with regard to the relief packages suggested to be given to the migrants from Udhampur, Rajouri, Poonch and Doda," the Court observed.

The Central team has been directed to visit as many districts and as many refugee camps as possible and report back whether the relief packages supposed to be provided to the migrant families as detailed in an affidavit of the State Government were actually being implemented.

The State Government's counsel Anis Shurhawardy unsuccessfully tried to plead that the State Government's relief package depended on what the Centre provides. Attorney General Soli Sorabjee,. however, retorted, saying "the Centre has given Rs 10 crore for buying tents for the refugees and not for fun."  END

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