The Punjab opposition had a run-in on Thursday with the ruling Congress in state assembly over their demand of Rs 1 crore compensation for the families of 27 state natives killed in Iraq by IS after their abduction with other Indians there in 2014.
The run-in took place despite Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announcing a compensation to the victim families earlier as per the state policy and even agreeing to examine the policy to ascertain the feasibility of enhancing the compensation.
Immediately after the question hour on the third day of the ongoing budget session in Punjab Vidhan Sabha here, the Leader of Opposition and AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira raised the issue of compensation to the families of 27 state natives out of 39 Indians killed in Iraq. He urged Singh to announce a compensation of Rs one crore and a government job to one member each of the victims’ families on humanitarian ground.
Describing the death of Indians in Iraq as “tragic,” Singh said as far as the compensation in the matter is concerned, there a “standard procedure” for it. “We will certainly look into our policy and compensate,” CM announced on the floor of the House.
The chief minister said the bodies of Indians killed in Iraq were expected to reach Amritsar within a week. “I was told by the Union minister that there was a problem in the release of bodies because of some legal aspect in Mosul,” he further said.
Speaking on the matter, Siromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia described the issue of compensation as a “serious and sensitive” matter and sought maximum compensation from the Punjab government. “It is the responsibility of the Punjab government towards people of the state,” he said adding “these families were very poor.”
Majithia accused the state government of not providing monthly compensation of Rs 20,000 to the families of those killed in Iraq for the last six months.
He also raised the inconvenience caused to the families of two Balachaur youths over arrival of bodies as a result of goof up by district administration of Nawanshahr on the issue. “Families should not face any problem in getting the bodies,” demanded Majithia.
Taking on Akalis, senior Congress leader Rana Gurmit Sodhi said it was the responsibility of the BJP-led Union government to provide compensation of Rs one crore each and a government job for the kin of those killed in Iraq.
“We are even ready to go with them (Akalis) if they take up this issue with the Centre for compensation,” said Sodhi, triggering heated exchanges between the treasury and the Akali members.
Lashing out at Akalis, another Congress MLA Kushaldeep Dhillon asked the members of the House not to politicise this matter. “There should be no politics over this matter,” he said.
External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had informed the Parliament on March 20 that all the 39 Indians, who were abducted by ISIS in Iraq nearly three years ago, were killed and their bodies had been recovered.
As many as 39 Indians, who had gone to Iraq to earn their livelihood, had been missing since 2014 and 27 of them belonged to Punjab. They were from several places including Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Jalandhar.