It was an important Sunday morning for 1,320 families of Sikhs who were killed in the riots of 1984, as they gathered at Shaheed Bhagat Singh park in Tilak Vihar. Thirty-one years later, they were all going to receive enhanced compensation cheques for Rs 5 lakh from the Delhi government.
Elderly women, some in wheelchairs, came with their families to collect what was due to them. Many felt the compensation was delayed and justice was still not done.
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The families queued up on the ground where cheques were being handed out district-wise. Darshan Singh, an auto-rickshaw driver, accompanied his 65-year-old mother Nanki Kaur to collect her cheque. “It is not so much about the compensation as it is about justice. We can earn money but what hurts the most is that those who brutally killed my father have gone scot-free,” he said. Tearing up, his mother said, “Had I got the money sooner my children would have got better education.”
Wheelchair-bound Kanta Rani (75) who lost two sons and a daughter-in-law in the riots said, “What choice do we have? If we want the cheque we have to be in the queue. I have been confined to this wheelchair after an accident. I had to take a loan of Rs 60,000 for my treatment. This compensation has come too late but I am glad I have finally got it.”
Surinder Kaur (85) walked in with a stick in one hand, clutching her daughter-in-law’s arm with the other. Old age has taken a toll on her hearing. Her son Ramaljeet, who lost his father and brother in the riots, said, “I had to borrow money to buy a shroud for my family member.”
He said while the government had eased the process of getting compensation, he had no hope for justice after 31 years. “The
accused will just get old and die and vote-bank politics will continue like it has all these years,” said Ramaljeet.
“We have expectations from the AAP government. If we didn’t, they would not have got 67 out of 70 seats in the election. We are hopeful that they will get justice for us,” said 65-year-old Balvir Kaur, who was in line for her cheque.