Despite a long tearful passage of over three decades, the detainees of Operation Blue Star,1984 are still waiting for the full compensation which was to be awarded to them by the District and Sessions Court of Amritsar in April last year. The compensation had been barricaded by the center led by the BJP dominated government .
Around 400 people were arrested and detained in Jodhpur jail, in the wake of Operation Blue Star, but were later released in three batches, between March 1989 and July 1991. Two hundred detainees had appealed for compensation in the lower court, alleging 'wrongful detention and torture' but they failed to get any relief from the in 2011 .However, forty of the detainees who went to appeal to the District & Sessions Court in Amritsar, were awarded Rs. 4 lakh each as compensation with 6% interest (from the date of filing of the appeal to payment of compensation) in April last year. The total compensation, including interest, was approximately five crore. The court had held the Union and the State Governments as jointly liable for payment of the compensation, and although the Punjab government had given an undertaking to the court to pay half the amount, the Union Government moved an appeal in Punjab and Haryana High Court against the order .
Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh had urged the central government to withdraw its appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the award of compensation to those arrested and detained in the Jodhpur prison following 'Operation Blue Star' in June 1984.
Captain Amarinder Singh had appealed to the central government to pay, without further delay, half the compensation amount of Rs. 4.5 crores that was awarded by the District and Sessions Court of Amritsar. In a D.O. letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the chief minister said, 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 h community and It was further likely to lead to an avoidable sense of alienation and perceived injustice among the community.
However, in compliance of orders of the District court ,the congress government, handed over the cheques amounting to approximately three crores. The amount is just 50% of the total compensation announced by District Court Amritsar for the detainees. On the occasion the Punjab Chief Minister's assured compensation for the remaining detainees of Jodhpur, also at par with the 40 who have been awarded by the Court, while promising to persuade the Central Government to also do the same.
Though the central government, which has gone for an appeal against the district court decision, does not seem to be extending the help in near future, the Punjab CM is still hopeful . Expressing confidence that the Centre would agree to his plea to contribute its share to the remaining 325 detainees , he said , " Even those who did not go to the court were also entitled to compensation and his government will make the same payment to them too. It is a small compensation for the pain they had undergone."
Blaming the Centre for delaying the compensation by appealing before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Congress MLA from Patti, Harminder Singh, (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 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, said Harminder.
Congress leader Harminder further recalls, "It was Captain Amarinder who gave them Rs 1 lakh each in 2006 – the only compensation given to the detainees before today. The detainees had met former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal several times during the various Akali rules after Operation Blue Star but got no help."
One of the detainees, Jasbir Singh Ghuman lauds Chief Minister Captain Amarinder as 'man of the match' in the entire episode. Ghuman says,"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 ."
Lambasting on Akalis, Ghuman adds,"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."
Ghuman suspects that he is still doubtful if the Centre will even pay its share and it might just be on Captain Amarinder to pay the full compensation.
But the question arises that despite the undertaking by the state government to the court to pay its 50 % share, why the central BJP government has gone for an appeal in the Punjab & Haryana High Court against the district court's decision ? Has BJP not thought of its consequences in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections ? Does BJP want to linger over the issue by filing an appeal and releasing the compensation just before the elections to win over the support of the detainees ? Will this trick of BJP get any favour ,as the congress led state government has won over the game by distributing its share to the detainees and putting the ball in the court of central government by publicly persuading and writing a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh to pay the center's share ? Circumstances speak loudly that ultimately the central government will have to pay the share and will not even get its credit . What the results may come, in the present scenario the BJP seems to be in deep waters. .JMT.