1984 riots relief: Punjab CM thanks Modi, seeks punishment
Even as Sikhs wanted more, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday thanked the union government in general and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular for the announcement of Rs 5 lakh each as compensation to the families of those killed in the 1984 massacre.
He said the compensation was “a concrete and meaningful step towards relief to the families whose loved ones were killed by the Congress goons”. In a statement issued here, the CM hoped that punishment to the killers and the Congress leaders behind the killings would be the next logical step.
“By showing extreme sensitivity to the demands raised by us repeatedly, the Prime Minister has proved how deeply he feels the pain of the Sikh community. As BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) ally, we are thankful to Modi for his singular gesture of compassion,” Badal said.
He said giving relief to the affected people and exemplary punishment to the killers was a part of the common minimum programme of the Akali-BJP alliance during the last elections to the Lok Sabha and Punjab assembly. Badal said the coalition government in Punjab as well as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had sought justice for the victims and punishment to the guilty.
“We have sought an omnibus commission of inquiry led by a Supreme Court judge to go into the conspiracy behind the massacre. We want the cases re-opened and pursued thoroughly in courts.
Where no complaint was entertained, cases should now be registered. This is necessary to complete the cycle of justice in the most tragic incident since Independence,” said the Punjab CM.
In a separate statement, SAD president Sukhbir Badal also welcomed the compensation. “This monetary help is a step towards healing the wounds of 1984 but the union government now should intensify the legal battle for punishing the culprits. The initiative reflects that the new NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government is committed to delivering justice to Sikhs,” stated Sukhbir.
Won’t heal wounds: Akal Takht jathedar
Amritsar: Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh led the Sikh community on Thursday in demanding stern punishment to the perpetrators of the November 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
“Monetary assistance is welcome but it will not heal our wounds. Justice can only come if those responsible for instigating the riots and massacring Sikhs are punished,” said the jathedar, reacting to `5 lakh each compensation to the next of kin of the 3,325 victims. He even disputed the count, saying the numbers killed were far more.
“Money can wipe a tear but not end the suffering of those who saw their relatives and friends being burnt alive,” he added. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) spoke on similar lines.
With SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar being in the US, additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi said: “Justice will continue to elude the Sikh community until the perpetrators are brought to book.”
Former SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta demanded that the Modi government brought a resolution in Parliament to condemn the pogrom. He said the compensation could be a Modi government move with an eye on Sikh votes.
“I do not think the government took its Akali allies into confidence before announcing the compensation. With the SAD and BJP not on the best of terms, by this announcement probably the BJP hopes to win over the Sikhs on its own,” said Calcutta.
Radical Sikh group the Dal Khalsa said its singular demand was punishment to the guilty.
“Compensation is a lollipop. Sikhs are not greedy,” said group spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh.
SGPC calls for prayers for victims
Amritsar: The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has called upon all Sikhs as well as peace-loving members of other communities to offer prayers in memory of those who were killed during the 1984 riots.
A statement issued on behalf of SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar also called for offering prayers for justice that has eluded the affected families for 30 years. On November 2, the bhog of akhand path in memory of the riot victims will be held at Gurdwara Shaheed Jhand Bunga Sahib in the Golden Temple complex.
Justice delayed, says Chhotepur
Ludhiana: Even after 30 years of the 1984 Sikh genocide in Delhi, the widows and the orphans of the pogrom have no justice, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur has said.
On his visit to Ludhiana on Thursday, he said AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal had called for “Insaaf Ki Pukar” (call for justice) rally on Saturday in New Delhi. Thereafter, the party will hold candlelight vigils in Punjab and Delhi.
“The AAP MPs will move a resolution in the winter session of Parliament to condemn this genocide,” Chotepur added.
The AAP will ask for the SIT that Kejriwal had announced as 49-day chief minister in Delhi.