Even 37 years after Sikh genocide, compensation yet to be delivered: Minority panel

After thirty-seven years of the 1984 Sikh genocide, the National Commission for Minorities had issued notice to nine states, inquiring about the delay in completion of compensation and delivery of justice to the victims and their families.

Monday marks 37 years of killings of about 3,000 Sikhs in 1984. The anti-Sikh violence in New Delhi was among India‘s bloodiest in modern times.

The Commission has asked the governments of Delhi, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh to file reports on the compensations paid so far and on the number of arrests made.

Earlier this August, the Union government had made an addition of 4.5 crores in the Union Budget for the compensation of genocide victims. While rehabilitation packages with schemes containing ex-gratia payment of Rs 3.5 lakhs for each death case and Rs 1.25 lakhs in case of injuries were introduced by the Union government, the state governments have introduced another pension scheme of 2500 per month for life for widows and old aged parents of death victims.

“The 1984 anti-Sikh riots is a dark spot in the country’s history wherein thousands of innocent persons belonging to the Sikh community were brutally massacred, dislocated and harassed, physically, emotionally and also destroyed economically. Though several relief packages were announced by the Government of India and the state governments there are many instances where the relief measures announced have not reached those families. Despite the passage of 37 years since the riots that began on October 31, 1984, the cases are still lingering,” read the NCM notice.

Following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguard, more than 3,000 Sikhs were believed to have been killed in Delhi alone, and more than 3000 nationwide. Over 1,000 fled their cities and were displaced. The targeted mass killings of Sikhs lead to the beginning of the Khalistan movement.

Several cases related to the genocide are either the subject of tortuous trials or are still being investigated. Many independent probes and ground reports accuse the Congress party of having ignored the killing of Sikhs and say some of its leaders helped orchestrate the genocide.

Civil society groups found that the violence was led and often perpetrated by sympathisers of the then-ruling party, the Congress, some of whom later became members of parliament or occupied posts in government.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had apologised in 2005 for the role of Congress party leaders in the Sikh massacre.