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Haldwani tragedy: Did or did not BJP govt announce ex-gratia?

Darshan Singh Rawat, the CM’s media coordinator, confirms some people did call up threatening to end lives even over “minor” issues.

dehradun Updated: Jan 11, 2018 20:43 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,transporter,Prakash Pandey
Sanjay Bisht at the police station after he was stopped from going towards the chief minister's residence.(Vinay S Kumar /HT)

DEHRADUN: The BJP government drew sharp criticism from the Congress after it was caught in a bind over providing monetary compensation to the family of debt-ridden Kathgodam transporter Prakash Pandey.

“A thought has not been given to that as yet…we will think over it,” Cabinet minister Madan Kaushik said when asked if the BJP government had assured a monetary assistance of Rs 10 lakh to the family. Pandey died on Tuesday after he consumed poison while attending the ‘Janata Darbar’ (the people’s court) at the BJP headquarters on January 6. He had blamed GST and demonetisation for his business losses.

Kaushik said the issue of providing monetary compensation for the family of a person who committed suicide was a serious issue. “It is not something on which a decision can be taken without considering the pros and cons,” he said, reacting to reports that several people called up the CMO threatening to commit suicide, if their problems were left unresolved. The minister suggested that monetary compensation “is not provided” in suicide cases.

Darshan Singh Rawat, the CM’s media coordinator, confirmed some people did call up threatening to end lives even over “minor” issues. One such case involving Sanjay Bisht, said to be a Congress worker, was reported on Thursday. Darshan Singh said Bisht was arrested when he was driving towards the chief minister’s residence.

On Thursday, Nainital district magistrate Deependra Chaudhary announced Rs 12 lakh in compensation following assurance by BJP legislator Bansidhar Bhagat. “A monetary assistance of Rs 2 lakh was provided on the day (Thursday) the transporter was cremated,” Haldwani sub-divisional magistrate AB Bajpayee said. “He (the DM) announced that the remaining monetary assistance would be provided following an assurance from Bhagat. The DM promised that the deceased’s wife would be provided a job on an ad hoc basis.”

Bhagat admitted he asked Chaudhary to announce a monetary assistance of Rs 10 lakh for the family following the chief minister’s assurance. “What can I do about that?” Bhagat said when told that the government was yet to confirm the DM’s announcement relating to the monetary assistance of Rs 10 lakh. Later, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat confirmed the district magistrate had already provided a separate monetary assistance of Rs 2 lakh to the family.

Congress state president Pritam Singh flayed the BJP government for its flip-flop on compensation. “The way this government is promising monetary compensation for the family and then going back on its promise shows its double standards,” he said. “This kind of flip-flop on such a sensitive issue shows its insensitivity.”

Singh said the government should not just provide monetary compensation to the family. “It should also pay the debt because of which the debt-ridden transporter committed suicide,” he said, adding that such a gesture was obligatory on the government. “It is obligatory because the transporter committed suicide citing demonetisation and GST for business failure. Besides, he is on record stating that he decided to end life after his request for help to the PM and the CM failed to get any response.”

First Published: Jan 11, 2018 20:43 IST