Thursday, January 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

New panel to probe ’84 riots
Rs 860-cr package for cyclone-hit Orissa
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 12 — The Union Cabinet today approved the setting up of another commission of Inquiry headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court to probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, which broke out in Delhi and other parts of the country following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Announcing the decision, the Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Pramod Mahajan, said that the decision to institute another commission of inquiry was taken as it was felt that the earlier Ranganath Mishra Commission and two other sub-committees which went into the riots did not do a thorough job. The Chief Justice of India has been entrusted with the task of nominating a suitable retired judge of the Supreme Court to head the commission, he added.

The earlier Commission named only 147 police officials for dereliction of duty, out of which 42 had either died or retired from service. Of the 105 police officials against whom prosecution was launched, 77 were exonerated and 14 were punished and one official warned. Thirteen officials were still under prosecution, he added.

Similarly, of the 707 criminal cases registered, prosecution had been launched only in 374 cases and 322 were sent as untraced or cancelled. Out of the 374 persons put to trial, 320 were acquitted and only 30 were prosecuted. Twenty persons were still under trial.

Mr Mahajan said the earlier commission of inquiry was more of an “eyewash” and that is why the government had decided to institute another inquiry commission.

This will be the second commission to go into the riots first being the Rangnath Commission of Inquiry appointed by the Rajiv Gandhi Government in April 1985.

Under the terms of reference, the new inquiry commission would look into the causes and course of the criminal violence and the riots targeting members of the Sikh community, the sequence of events leading to the violence, the lapses or dereliction of duty on the part of any individual authorities and the adequacy of administrative measures taken to prevent and deal with the violence.

The Cabinet also cleared a Rs 725 crore rehabilitation package, including a Rs 275 crore food for work programme for cyclone-hit districts of Orissa.

The package also envisages construction of additional 2.5 lakh houses under the Indira Awas Yojana and 50,000 houses under the credit-cum-subsidy housing system, Mr Mahajan said.

The construction of additional houses would require the Centre to incur a total of Rs 450 crore, the minister said adding that different rehabilitation programmes worth Rs 135 crore were being already implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development.

“With this the total central assistance to Orissa would go up to Rs 860 crore”, he said.

Under the food for work programme, 2 kg of rice will be given to a person a day below the poverty line at BPL rates fixed by the government, he said.

People in all 14 cyclone-ravaged districts would be eligible for the benefit under the scheme, Mr Mahajan said.

The FCI has been directed to supply 90,600 tonnes of rice to the state government for which the Orissa Government will make direct payment to the corporation, the minister said.

Under the food for work programme, people in the cyclone-affected areas would receive rice till March 31 this year, Mr Mahajan said.

The Cabinet took several other decisions also. One of these pertained to the Government’s earlier decision to corporatise the four airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta and the upcoming Bangalore airport.

Mr Mahajan said a task force set up by the government had pointed out several difficulties in the corporatisation of the airports and it had been decided to amend the decision.

The Cabinet decided that the five airports would now be developed under the long-term leasing route. It was also decided that the revenue earned by the airports would not go to the Consolidated Fund and would be given to the National Airports Authority of India so that subsidy could be given to smaller airports. For this purpose the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994 would be amended in the next session of Parliament, he added.

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