CHANDIGARH: The Capt Amarinder Singh led Congress Government in Punjab has outsmarted the Narendra Modi led UPA Government on the issue of relief to the Jodhpur detainees. Despite its alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal and Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) demanding relief to these detainees, the central government kept mum and now these detainees are all set to get much-needed relief, with Chief Minister Amarinder deciding to hand over cheques of the state's share of the Rs. 4.5 crore compensation to them on Thursday. Amarinder will hand over the cheques to the detainees tomorrow, in the presence of all members of his cabinet.
It is just not Amarinder but also the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has also supported the cause of the detainees. Rashtriya Sikh Sangat president GS Gill along with others had recently met Union home minister Rajnath Singh and urged him to withdraw the Centre's appeal in Punjab and Haryana high court against compensation to Jodhpur detainees and also appealed Rajnath to release compensation for them. Also BJP's alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal delegation has met Rajnath and asked and requested the same. Both had claimed Rajnath gave a positive response.
The Punjab government decided to go ahead with the disbursement of its share of the compensation, awarded by the Amritsar District Court, after the central government communicated to the State its decision to contribute its share of the compensation. Amarinder had recently written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and also personally spoken to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba in the absence of the former, to seek urgent resolution of the matter in order to provide the much-needed respite to the detainees. He had also made it clear that if the Centre fails to come forward with its share of the compensation then the state government will take over its liability too. He had also met the detainees, who were arrested and detained in the Jodhpur prison following 'Operation Blue Star' in June 1984 and had assured them of his government's full support in the matter. The detainees had been suffering for the past several years for no fault of theirs, the Chief Minister had felt, while pointing out that the Centre's decision to go in appeal had evoked a strong reaction amongst the Sikh community and was further likely to lead to an avoidable sense of alienation and perceived injustice among the community.
Around 300 persons were arrested and detained in Jodhpur jail in the wake of Operation Blue Star, and were later released in three batches, between March 1989 and July 1991. Of these, 224 detainees had appealed for compensation in the lower court, alleging 'wrongful detention and torture' but they failed to get any relief from the court in 2011. However, 40 of the detainees went in appeal to the District and Sessions Court, Amritsar, and were awarded Rs 4 lakh each as compensation with 6 per cent interest (from the date of filing of the appeal to payment of compensation) in April last year. The total compensation, including interest, worked out to Rs. 4.5 crore rupees approximately. The court had held the Union and the State Governments as jointly liable for payment of the compensation, and although the Punjab government had given an undertaking to the court to pay half the amount, the Union Government had moved an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the order.