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Friday, October 24, 2008

Army admits 34 soldiers killed in ’84 anti-Sikh riots

Admitting for the first time that soldiers were killed in the anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, Army authorities have sought details of such victims and called for speedy compensation for the next of kin.

The Rehabilitation and Welfare Section of Ceremonial and Welfare Directorate, Adjutant General’s branch in the Army Headquarters in Delhi, sent a note to various Commands and Regiments that as many as 34 Army personnel (including one ex-serviceman) were killed in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. And that all efforts be made to report on the progress of their compensation cases with respective state governments in tune with the package announced by the Centre in January 2006....

Said Pratap Singh Phoolka, a retired Army officer who has been leading the campaign and is identifying such cases on his own: “The untimely delay caused by the Army in this regard has caused immense damage. Parents of many such unmarried victims have also died in these 25 long years. Who will get the compensation now?”

He, however, welcomed the Army recognising the killing of its personnel during transit in 1984. Phoolka claimed that only a few have been identified so far and that there could be around 300 soldiers who had lost their lives in the riots.

Phoolka started his campiagn after two of his own men in 63 Cavalry died in transit, Capt I P S Bindra in Meerut and Sepoy Sukminderjit Singh Morena in Madhya Pradesh. The SGPC recently announced a Rs 1-lakh grant to the families of the soldiers killed.[Link]

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