A month after it denied taking a decision on enhancing the compensation for the next of kin of the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday wrote to the Finance Ministry seeking release of funds for disbursement during the current fiscal.
Sources said the Cabinet today cleared the decision to provide extra compensation.
In his letter dated December 9, Home Secretary Anil Goswami asked Expenditure Secretary Ratan P Watal to sanction the “rehabilitation package to provide relief to the victims of 1984 riots” as approved by the Centre.
Sources said Goswami has sought release of an extra Rs 66.5 crore from the non-plan budget to pay Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of 3,325 victims of the anti-Sikh riots, triggered by the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Goswami’s letter runs contrary to his ministry’s clarification to the Election Commission on November 3 that it had not taken a decision on providing extra compensation and had thus, not violated the Model Code of Conduct.
The news was not formally announced by the MHA but officials gave the information to sections of the media, including this newspaper, a day before the 30th anniversary of the anti-Sikh riots on October 31. The EC had reprimanded the MHA and sought a confirmation since it “did not come across any denial from the government in the electronic media”.
On November 25, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told the Lok Sabha that the government had not enhanced the compensation for the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims.
Goswami’s letter seems to be timed to ensure that the funds are released after the Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand polls get over, but before the Delhi assembly election is announced.
Sources said the MHA in October approved an enhancement in the relief from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh under a central assistance scheme for the families of the victims of terrorist, communal and Naxal violence.
In 2006, the previous UPA government announced a Rs 717 crore rehabilitation package for anti-Sikh riots victims after the Nanavati Commission, set up to probe the riots, submitted its report. Of the 3,325 victims, 2,733 were killed in Delhi alone while the remaining victims were from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states.