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General And Justice For All ?

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by kds1980, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Apr 4, 2005
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    H ARBANS KAUR, then 17, was one-month pregnant when her husband Ranjit Singh, an autorickshaw driver, was dragged out of their Mangolpuri home, tied to an electricity pole and burnt alive, one of the thousands of Sikhs who lost their lives to the '84 riots. Driven out of home by her inlaws, she, like many others torn apart by the riots, moved from one shelter to another set up by the government for them before being allotted a dark, one-room unit in Tilak Vihar near Tilak Nagar Here, she gave birth to Manpreet, now 21. But Harbans, now 40, regrets not being able to raise her the way she wanted to. With her husband dead and without a proper home, she had hoped the promised compensation from the government would help meet her daughter's needs in the growing up years. Those hopes have been dashed. "If a mob killed my husband, the government killed my daughter's childhood," she says. Twenty-three years after the tragedy, she is still to get the Rs 10 lakh she was prom- ised. Harbans has got only Rs 7 lakh, sharing half of it with her in-laws. "l have lost all hope of getting justice. Money won't compensate the trauma I have undergone all these years. My daughter did not even see her father's face. Even now, the culprits are roaming free. Whatever the government does will be too litt1e to fill the emotional void in my daughter's life," she says. Harbans feels had she got the entire compensation money at one go, things would have been different. "In the initial years after the tragedy, I got just Rs 20,000. The last installment of Rs 3.5 lakh was given last year All these years, I was on my own. It was a tough time bringing up my daughter single-handedly," she says. Such tales abound. Bhauji Kaur, 80, lost her husband and three grown-up sons to the riots. She now lives with her two grandchildren in Tilak Vihar. "My grandson is unemployed and my granddaughter gives tuitions. We have received only half the compensation money How long can we go on like this? I can't sleep at night just thinking about what will happen to them after I die," she says. The sentiment is shared by majority of the riot victims living in Tilak Vihar, the colony carved out especially for them. Forgotten by the government and their grown-up children turning wayward because of unemployment, the victims have now resigned themselves to fate. Old women, wearing faces of despair, sit on charpoys outside their one-room tenements allotted by the Delhi Development Authority Cracks have appeared on the walls of many homes. Grocery, tailor, juice and eating stalls dot the main road. Most are run by families of the victims, who say they have been let down by politicians. "Even after 23 years, we have been forced to recount our horror every time there is an election. If all these years the politicians failed to help us, I don't think they can do anything in the future," said Parsi Kaur, 60, who lost 15 members of her family in the riots. And what about the children orphaned by the riots? Their lives have been scarred forever "We lost our childhood. My siblings and I had to discontinue studies after the riots. Most young- sters in this colony are unemployed. Many have taken to drinking and other addictions. What crime did they commit to deserve this kind of life? Shouldn't the government do something to help these young men?" asks Gurmeet Singh, 34, who lost his father and brother to the riots. moushumi.gupta@hindustantimes.com<br /><br />
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