PROMISES TO ALSO PERSUADE CENTRE TO RELEASE COMPENSATION FOR ALL THE 365 DETAINEES
Chandigarh, June 28:
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday assured compensation for the remaining 325 Jodhpur detenues, at par with the 40 who have been awarded by the Court, while promising to persuade the Central Government to also do the same.
The Chief Minister came out with this assurance while handing over the cheques of the state’s 50% share of the approximately Rs. 4.5 Crore compensation announced by District Court Amritsar for the 40 detenues who had sought judicial relief. The cheques that were paid out today by the state government amounted to Rs. 2,16,44,900.
A total of 365 persons were arrested and detained at Jodhpur jail in the wake of Operation Blue Star in 1984, and were eventually released in 1986. As many as 100 had since died. Of the 40 who had gone to the court, seven had passed away in the interim.
The Chief Minister, while sharing the pain of the detainees, said those who did not go to the court were also entitled to compensation and his government will make the same payment to them too. He expressed the confidence that the Centre would agree to his plea to also contribute its share to the remaining 325 detenues.
His government had been prepared to release the full compensation to the 40 detainees who had won the case in District Court but he was then informed by the Central Government of its decision to release its share too, the Chief Minister told the detainees/survivors who had come to receive their cheques at the Punjab Bhawan here. It was a small compensation for the pain they had undergone, he said, assuring the detainees that his government would also look into their demand for jobs for their children.
Recalling the painful period that Punjab had gone through post-1984, the Chief Minister urged the detainees and their families to forget the past and move on.
Congress MLA from Patti, Harminder Singh, who was also detained after 1984, thanked the Chief Minister for coming to the rescue of the detainees, time and again. He recalled Captain Amarinder’s gesture in visiting the detenues in Nabha prison (where they were initially kept before being shifted to Jodhpur), to give them clothes. The detainees had been kept naked in Nabha prison, said Harminder.
Harminder further recalled that it was Captain Amarinder who gave them Rs 1 lakh each in 2006, during his previous tenure – the only compensation given to the detainees before today. The detainees met former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal several times during the various Akali rules after Operation Blue Star but got no help, he pointed out.
He blamed the Centre for delaying the compensation by going in appeal before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and observed that had Captain Amarinder not intervened, the matter would have again gone into cold storage. It was the Chief Minister’s efforts and decision to pay that had forced the Centre to agree to release its share, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, one of the detainees, Jasbir Singh Ghuman lauded the Chief Minister as the `man of the match’ in the entire episode.
Ghuman said their acquittal had come after a 20-year court battle and then it had taken them seven years to win the compensation. Only Captain Amarinder understood the pain of the detainees, said Ghuman, adding that despite their pleas, the Akalis failed to persuade the BJP-led central government not to go in appeal against their compensation.
The detainees had met the Badals on several occasions to seek compensation but the Akali leaders simply refused to pay heed to their grief and need, said Ghuman, adding that he was doubtful if the Centre would even now pay its share and it might still be left to Captain Amarinder to pay the full compensation.
Pointing out that Captain Amarinder had quit the Congress after Operation Blue Star, Ghuman said entire Punjab would always remain indebted to the Chief Minister for his support to the community.
The detainees, whom the Chief Minister also hosted for lunch, later honoured him and thanked him profusely for coming to their rescue.