The NHRC on Thursday rapped Maharashtra government for “failing to take timely action” to protect two migrants who were killed during an agitation by MNS against North Indians in 2008 and directed it to pay a compensation of Rs five lakh each to the families.

Asking the State Government to submit a compliance report along with proof of payment of compensation within eight weeks, the rights body noted, “It is unfortunate that the State Government did not muster the political will to rein in divisive forces.

“The Maharashtra Government failed to take timely action for protection of citizens in the wake of hate campaign launched against migrants in the State by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists in the State in February 2008,” the National Human Rights Commission observed.

Rejecting the State Government’s plea of monetary constraint, it observed “the persons who lost their life were poor labourers. Their families have lost bread earners and the government cannot evade its liability to give appropriate relief on the ground of financial constraints.”

Observing that it was the “constitutional duty” of the State Government to safeguard the lives of the migrant people, it held that the state government failed to take timely action to protect the two persons when a campaign for hatred had been launched against non-Maharashtrians in the region.

Vinod Singh, a security guard in Jindal Company, lost his life in violence at Nasik on February 13. Amba Das died after being injured during stone pelting by a mob on a bus carrying him and his colleagues of HAL on Mumbai-Nasik highway the same day.

The NHRC observed that the State Government had in reply to its notice failed to explain as to what preventive measures it had taken to protect the inhabitants of workers’ colony of Jindal company and restrain the unruly people from gathering there.

On the State Government’s submission that it gave a compensation of Rs one lakh each to the family of the two deceased, the rights body noted that the amount “was grossly inadequate for the loss of human life“.

Responding to a show cause notice as to why a compensation of Rs five lakh each to the family of the two deceased should not be recommended, the State Government pleaded that it was not in a position to provide monetary relief of Rs. five lakhs as proposed by the Commission, the rights body noted.

The Commission took suo motu cognizance of the case on the basis of media reports. It also later received complaints on the same issue from former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, Uttar Bhartiya Shramik Elgar and Jai Hind Jhuggi Jhopadi Sangh of Mumbai, the rights body said.