J-K HC Asks Army To Compensate For Dead Porters

13 March 2009
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Taking a strong note of failing to provide compensation to five porters who were killed in an avalanche in north Kashmir’s Uri sector eight years back, the High Court has directed the Army authorities in Kashmir to immediately pay compensation to the next kin of porters. In December 2001, five porters identified as Abdul Rehman Lone, Muhammad Shafi Lone, Imtiyaz Ahmad Khan, Abdul Gani Lone and Abdul Sattar – all resident of Lachipora Uri- were killed in an snow avalanche while carrying ration for the Army post on Line of Control (LoC).Soon after the tragedy the Army refused to pay compensation to the families saying the five were killed in a natural calamity. After the denial by Army for compensation, the relatives of the five slain porters in early 2002 approached the court of Assistant Labour Commissioner Baramulla for seeking justice. The Assistant Labour Commissioner, after hearing the plea, directed the Army authorities in July 2003, to give Rs 21 lakh compensation to the families whose kin have died in the avalanche while performing the duty for Army. The Army later filed an appeal in the High Court and challenged the Assistant Labour Commissioner’s direction. Army later pleaded before the High Court that even as the porters were working with Army, but they were killed in a natural calamity so there was no reason why the Army authorities should pay compensation to the families of the five porters. The Army also pleaded that they were in no way responsible for the death of five men. “They (porters) did not die because of the negligence of the Army men,” the Army pleaded before the High Court. After hearing the plea from both the side, High Court Judge Mohammad Yaqoob Mir upheld the decision of the Assistant Labour Commissioner Baramulla and directed the of Army to immediately release the compensation money to the families of the porters. “It will be injustice if the compensation is not paid the five porters who died while working for Army,” Justice Mir observed in his judgement.