Chandigarh: Haryana minister Anil Vij Thursday demanded government jobs and compensation for the next of kin of those killed in violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's conviction in a rape case in August.
He said if the government could give compensation to the families of those killed in violence during the Jat agitation of 2016, then there was "no reason why compensation and jobs cannot be given to the next of kin of those who lost their lives" in this case.
Forty-one lives were lost after Dera Sacha Sauda followers went on a rampage following the conviction of their sect's chief last month. The violence during the Jat agitation for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions had claimed 30 lives in 2016.
"There cannot be two rules ... A job and Rs 10 lakh each were given to the next of kin of those killed during the Jat agitation. Since there is a similarity in the two cases, families of those who lost their lives in violence in Panchkula or Sirsa should also be given compensation. He claimed Jat protesters had "indulged in arson and damaged property" and followers of the Dera did the "same thing".
In both the cases, "people died after police action", Vij said. The minister, however, made it clear he does not support "arsonists and criminals" and would never advocate any leniency towards those booked or arrested by the police on sedition charges.
A special CBI court had on 25 August convicted the Dera chief for raping his two disciples 15 years ago. In the violence that followed, 35 people were killed in Panchkula and six in Sirsa. Singh was later sentenced to 20 years in prison and is lodged in the Sunaria jail in Rohtak.
As far as compensation and jobs to the families of "those killed in police firing are concerned, it is a question of humanity", he said. It is not about which "Dera, religion or caste they belong to ... I am a humanitarian. Whenever such issues figure, I raise them," Vij told PTI.
"I have demanded that the government compensate them and I am hopeful they will listen to me," he said, adding there was no politics involved in it. "It is a question of humanity. It has nothing to do with the Dera. All I am saying is ... if anyone has done wrong, a process is already on and police are taking action. That is a separate matter. My demand has nothing to do with vote-bank politics," he said.
The minister had recently courted controversy for donating Rs 50 lakh from his discretionary fund to the Dera Sacha Sauda for promoting sports in Haryana. On this, he said, "I did not give Rs 50 lakh to the Baba. I had gone to the Dera for the opening ceremony of a sporting event and I had given the amount for the construction of a stadium. "If I attend a function in a school and make a donation... and if the principal of that school is arrested in some case later, should I be blamed for that?" he asked.
He said there were many good sports persons in the schools run by the Dera Sacha Sauda. "Some of them have won medals in national-level competitions. They have the right to excel in life ... will they be barred only because they belong to a school run by the Dera. Is it justified?" the minister asked.
Reacting to Vij's demand, opposition Indian National Lok Dal said the government "wants to prove that the BJP is with the Dera".
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Updated Date: Sep 21, 2017 20:41:37 IST