If Centre fails, Punjab Govt will pay full compensation for Jodhpur detenus

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said that his government will fully compensate the Jodhpur detenus if the Centre fails to come out with its share.

According to a release from the Chief Minister’s office, Singh made the announcement after a telephonic conversation with Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, whom he called to urge for an early resolution of the matter.

He highlighted the prolonged suffering of the detainees, who were arrested and held in the Jodhpur prison following ‘Operation Blue Star’ in June 1984.

The Chief Minister expressed hopes that the Centre would be forthcoming with its share of the compensation (50 per cent) awarded by the court to the detenus. He further said in case the Union Government failed to pay its share, the State Government would assume responsibility and ensure that the detainees were served justice.

In the absence of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was travelling overseas the Chief Minister decided to take up the issue with the Home Secretary, and demanded immediate steps by the central government to release the compensation awarded by the Amritsar district court. These detainees had been suffering for the past several years for no fault of theirs, he pointed out, calling for a standardized policy to deal with such cases.

The Centre should immediately withdraw its appeal in the Punjab & Haryana High Court against the compensation, said Captain, adding that if the central government fails to come to the rescue of the detenus, then the state government will pay the full amount of the compensation.

He had last week written a D.O. letter to the Union Home Minister, pointing out that the central government’s appeal against the compensation, which the court had held to be jointly payable by the Union and State governments, had evoked a strong reaction amongst the Sikh community. It was further likely to lead to an avoidable sense of alienation and perceived injustice among the community, the Chief Minister warned.

The Amritsar court had directed the central as well as the Punjab government to jointly pay a compensation of Rs 4.5 crore to the victims. Though the Punjab government has shown its inclination in implementing the court judgment the central government chose to appeal against the judgment in high court.

All the 375 arrested from the Golden Temple complex during Operation Bluestar in 1984 were later released in three lots between March 1989 and July 1991. Of them, 224 appealed for compensation alleging wrongful detention and torture. But the Central Bureau of Investigation contested the case and won it in the lower court in 2011.