Hearing Of Mass Cremation By Special Commission Of N.H.R.C. At Amritsar

A special Commission is hearing the case of mass creminations by the Punjab Police in the districts of Amritsar, Majitha and Tarn Tarn. The Supreme Court of India in the year 1997 referred the issue of identifying the people who were illegally creminated in three cremination grounds of Durgiana Mandir Amritsar, Majitha and Tarn Tarn to national Human Rights Commission (N.H.R.C.)

Supreme court in the year 1997 referred the issue of identifying the people who were illegally cremated in the three cremation grounds of Durgiana mandir Amritsar, Majitha and Tarn Taran to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the matter of abduction of Mr.Khalra on the basis of petition moved by Mrs.Paramjit Kaur Khalra to the CBI

NHRC was seized of the matter regarding 2097 dead bodies, out of which after seeking claims from the general public it came to light that 1245 bodies were and actual total figure instead of 2097 was 2059. NHRC vide its order dated 10.10.2006 granted a compensation of 1.75 lakhs (approx 3800 US $ ) to the next of the kin of the persons cremated as identified bodies, this being besides a compensation of 2.5 lakhs (approx 5600 U.S $)which was awarded by NHRC in its order dated 11.11.2004 to initially 109 claimants, the figure which has arose to 195 as in these cases Punjab Police admitted that the 194 persons who were cremated were in their custody. And vide its order dated 10.10.2006 NHRC referred the case of 814 dead bodies which could not be identified by the State to Special Commissioner Justice K.S Bhalla appointed by NHRC for the cause.

Lawyers For Human Rights International (LFHRI) and other human rights organizations condemned the line of action adopted by NHRC vide its order dated 10.10.1006 as NHRC was under a moral and a legal obligation to address the issue ,as to whether the persons cremated as unclaimed dead bodies were ever in Police custody rather than confining itself to the issue of granting compensations just for illegal cremations.

The endeavour of LFHRI has always been to seek deliverance of justice, in respect of Human Rights violations perpetrated by the State. LFHRI resolved to stand by the families of the dead bodies and provide free legal aid to those who have to stake their claim before the Special Commission. In the recent development on the first date of hearing at Amritsar ,before the special commissioner

in the case, Paramjit Kaur Khalra ,through her counsels Mr. Navkiran Singh ,Mr. V.P.S Bhatia ,Mr. Parminder Singh Sethi and Mr. Pankaj Sangari all members of LFHRI ,submitted her plea to the Special commissioner with a prayer to

  1. Direct State of Punjab to issue notices to all 1857 claimants who have to make their claims against 814 unidentified dead bodies.

  2. Direct the State of Punjab to produce the Police files of the FIR’s which have been registered by it and are mentioned in column no.5 of the list B and C which has been drawn out by the NHRC, so that the complainant can assist the Commission in identifying the persons who have been cremated as unidentified dead bodies.

  3. Direct the state of Punjab to supply two sets of photocopies of the 1857 claim forms to the complainant, so that proper assistance can be provided to the Commissioner.

  4. Direct the State to also supply one set of photocopies of the orders assed by the NHRC from the inception of the case till date.

The Hon’ble Special Commissioner after hearing the application passed orders that our team should be supplied with the copies of all the claim forms (which had been originally submitted by CCDP ,of which LFHRI is a constituent ) and also directed the police officials to make available all the details of the FIR’s and posted the case for further hearing for 2nd January 2007 . However the Special Commissioner denied the prayer for issuing notices to individual claimants as the commissioner was of the view that the claimants since have to be contacted by us ,so there is no need for individual notices as that would further prolong the matter. January 2007