Members of a group for 1984-riot victims on fast-unto-death

  • Anshu Seth, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2015 21:35 IST
Members of a group of 1984-riot victims protests against the government decision to cancel 125 red cards and over non-issuance of new cards. (JS Grewal/HT Photo)

Ongoing wrangle between various organisations working for the rights of 1984-riot victims has once again took a twist with members of 1984 Sikh Katl-E-Aam Welfare Society commencing fast unto death against the government's decision to cancel 125 red cards and over non-issuance of new cards in wake of incomplete and false documents, outside deputy commissioner's office.

Initially, the society members gathered at Bharat Nagar Chowk, blocking the traffic for almost an hour. From there, they started a protest march towards DC office causing a traffic jam on Ferozepur Road for more than half an hour, thus causing inconvenience to the commuters.

The recent decision of the seven-member committee constituted under Patiala divisional commissioner AS Pannu towards the cancellation of 125 out of total 525 red cards has caused the furor.

The committee members having gone through every file, shortlisted 125 cards, wherein either the individuals holding the cards were untraceable or did not have the requisite documents.

Surjit Singh, president of the 1984 Sikh Katl-E-Aam Welfare Society, claiming to have fought for the rights of riot victims stated that the government was depriving the genuine victims.

However, other victims who had approached Punjab and Haryana high court, Chandigarh, against society president Surjit Singh for 'fraudulent practices' maintain that he and his associates are using pressure tactics to get away with their evil designs.

Sukhbir Singh, a member of Danga Peedit Welfare Society, one of the complainant, who filed a writ in the high court against Surjit Singh and associates, alleged that Surjit Singh had duped a large number of people by taking compensation amount given by the Centre and flats allotted by the state government.

"On the orders of Punjab and Haryana high court, I along with another complainant had scrutinised the files and pointed towards the fake documents attached therewith. A high-level inquiry should be constituted against Surjit Singh, who has amassed unaccounted wealth/assets in last one decade through unfair means. He and his associates have cheated the government in the name of riot victims who had no connection with riots but sided with him as business partners so as to enjoy the dividend," Sukhbir Singh alleged.

At the same time, Surjit Singh refuted the allegations, adding that Sukhbir Singh and various others were the ones who had resorted to unlawful practices and not him. "I have no stakes as I am fighting for the riot victims," he added.
Brief history

In September 2013, a group of riot victims had filed a writ in Punjab and Haryana high court against illegal possession of some flats and issuance of red cards to fake claimants. As a result, the court had asked the government to constitute a committee and complete verification by September 2014. But the government failed to do so, thus the petitioners filed contempt against the government. In April 2015, the high court called the commissioner in person and gave another three months to complete the process.

The 'verification' was done by the committee members that had given clean chit to 400 out of 525 applicants. The claimants who were rejected by the committee either did not exist or did not have the requisite proof, mandatory for issuance of red cards. It is pertinent to mention here that each riot victim was given a personal hearing and the administration had also given notices in the newspapers for the same.

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