Scrambling to dole out sops before the model code of conduct kicks in in poll-bound Delhi, the BJP on Friday tried to strike an emotional chord in Tilak Vihar, home to a number of widows of Sikhs killed in the riots of 1984.
Handing out cheques of enhanced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to 16 widows, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “I still see the pain in their (widows) eyes. Even if we give crores of rupees in compensation, their pain cannot be allayed. I am aware of this fact. This massacre (of 1984) is a slur on the history of India. Our Sikh brothers and sisters have been foremost in protecting our land and its culture.”
Officials said the Centre will grant the enhanced compensation to 2,495 widows after necessary verification.
Singh announced that the government had decided to set up a grievance redressal committee chaired by a retired High Court judge.
Various complaints regarding grant of compensation, jobs or punishment to the guilty can be placed before the committee, he said. “The committee will recommend measures to remedy the grievances and the home ministry will implement them,” Singh said.
The home minister said soon after he took charge, he had decided to do something for the families of those killed in the riots. “Two-three months had passed. Other states were going to polls and Delhi too was expected to have bypolls in three Assembly constituencies. Due to the model code of conduct being enforced, I could not do it soon. The decision was already taken. As soon as the elections were over, an order was issued in this regard. The credit goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Singh said.
Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung said he was there to share the pain of the victims. “For a month or two, the home minister had been directing us to take action in this regard expeditiously. He is the person who first told us that he wanted to come here to share the pain,” Jung said.
“Those guilty of these crimes will be punished as per our criminal justice system. I have full faith in it,” Singh said.
Elderly women, some with walking sticks and walkers, braved the cold morning to receive their cheques.
“My children were revengeful after the riots. I have made many sacrifices to turn them away from that path. With this government, we are hopeful the guilty will be punished,” Daljeet Kaur said.
Her husband Jung Bahadur Singh, an armyman, was killed in the riots.