Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday awarded compensation to 40 people who were arrested and kept in a Jodhpur prison following Operation Bluestar in 1984 and assured that the remaining 325 detainees, who did not move court, would also be given financial aid.
He was addressing a programme organised to distribute cheques to the 40 detainees here who were awarded compensation by district court in Amritsar last year.
Singh handed over cheques of the state’s 50 per cent share of the approximately Rs 4.50 crore compensation for them. They amounted to Rs 2,16,44,900.
“Those remaining (325) Jodhpur detainees who did not approach court are also entitled to compensation. We will give our share of compensation to them and will also take up with the Centre to put in its share,” Singh said.
A total of 365 people were arrested and detained at Jodhpur jail following Operation Bluestar. They were eventually released between March 1989 and July 1991.
Of these, over 200 detainees had appealed for compensation in a lower court, alleging “wrongful detention and torture” but they failed to get any relief in 2011.
However, 40 of them appealed to the District and Sessions Court, Amritsar. They were awarded Rs 4 lakh each as compensation with 6 per cent interest (from the date of filing of the appeal to payment of compensation) in April last year.
The court held that the central and state governments would be jointly liable for payment of the compensation. The total compensation, including interest, worked out to Rs 4.50 crore approximately.
As many as 100 detained had died since then. Of the 40 who had gone to the court, seven passed away in the interim.
The chief minister said his government was prepared to release the full compensation to the 40 detainees but he was informed by the Centre about its decision to release its share as well.
He said it was a small compensation for the pain they underwent, assuring that his government would also look into their demand for jobs for their children.
Congress MLA from Patti, Harminder Singh, who was also detained, thanked the chief minister for coming to the rescue of the detainees.
He recalled Amarinder Singh’s gesture in visiting the detainees 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, claimed Harminder Singh.
He said it was Amarinder Singh who gave them Rs 1 lakh each in 2006, during his previous tenure, the only compensation given to the detainees before today.
It was the chief minister’s efforts and decision that had forced the Centre to agree to release its share, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, one of the detainees, Jasbir Singh Ghuman said their acquittal had come after a 20-year court battle and then it had taken them seven years to win the compensation.