Aftermath Of Communal Violence In UP Denies Compensation To Victims

Hindu-Muslim riots have plagued the town of Muzaffarnagar since 2013, with killings ensuing following the death of three men who opposed sexual misconduct of a young woman, according to BBC News. Since the riots, 190 families have lost their homes and have been denied monetary funds from the government. The killings, which resulted in the destruction of hundreds of villages and the construction of shoddy refugee camps, have adversely affected the lives of many families who were forced to sign a document promising that they would not receive funding. According to a report released by Amnesty International India, the Supreme Court has found that 50 children have died in such relief camps. Furthermore, such relief camps have been destroyed by municipal entities that have evicted families; rendering them homeless and without governmental aid. 

The Indian government has broken its law by reducing the necessary aid and failing to solve the humanitarian crisis. According to the Chief Development officer of Muzaffarnagar district, “A Family unit hinges on the idea of “ek chhath aur ek chulla” (one roof and one stove). There can be many variations to this but if a house has a kitchen then it is considered as a separate household.” Consequently, the state has used such abnormal interpretations to refuse aid. Issues with government ID cards and addresses have further complicated the process of reintegration for many Indian family units. 

The goals of compensation should be to “as far as possible, wipe out all the consequences of the illegal act and re-establish the situation which would, in all probability, have existed if that act had not been committed,” according to The UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation of Victims of Gross Violation of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law. According to Amnesty International, reparations should “be proportional to the gravity of the violation, and assessed based on physical or mental harm, including pain, suffering, and emotional distress; lost opportunities, including employment and education; material damages and loss of earnings, including loss of earning potential; moral damage; and costs required for legal or expert assistance, medicines and medical services, and psychological and social services.”  

As such, because Indian federal law rarely dictates the actions of individual states, it is the burden of each state to secure the safety and human rights as a legal claim. It is necessary that the government of Uttar Pradesh provide a framework based on the federal constitution that includes the restoration of basic aid such as housing, food, water, health care; additionally, national policy should be reconstructed to include legal precedents for the aftermath of religious and communal violence, so that such humanitarian catastrophes do not tear apart the lives of victims.