NEW DELHI: In a significant move, the NDA Government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
According to the officials of Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the decision was taken last week before the bypolls in Delhi were announced. The move, which comes just days ahead of the 30th anniversary of anti-Sikh riots, is seen as a healing touch to the community that is still struggling to come to terms with the sordid incident.
Senior lawyer and politician H S Phoolka, who spearheaded the legal battle to get justice for the riot victims, welcomed the government announcement, but demanded punishment for those guilty of engineering the riot.
“This is just one aspect of justice. We need to enforce the law of land by punishing the guilty. Our demand is that SIT should be made operational. The BJP had supported it when they were in the Opposition,” he told Express.
Senior MHA officials, though denied the decision as political statement, it is seen as counter against the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress ahead of the bypolls. Officials said the Rs 5 lakh, which will be in addition to the compensation already given by the government and agencies, will be disbursed only after the polls. Officials said the fresh compensation will cost the exchequer Rs 166 Crore and since the Model Code of Conduct is in place, the money will be released only after the election.
“The government had received several petitions from the Sikh organisations and it was felt that compensation given to the families were inadequate and a decision was taken to enhance it,” officials added.