Survivors of 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots Facing Problems of Unemployment, Education: Delhi Minorities Commission Report
Syed Ali Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, JULY 17—The Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) report on survivors of 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims in Delhi has said that Sikh riot victims and their children are facing three challenges: less family income, unemployment and inability to ensure quality education.
The report titled as “Socio-Economic and Educational Status of Survivors of the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots in Delhi”, runs into 87 pages. The condition of the Sikh riot survivors, who once formed part of the most affluent section of Delhi population, is very pathetic now.
The report was released by DMC chairman Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, in presence of Commission members Kartar Singh Kochhar and Ms. Anastasia Gill at DMC premises on Thursday. The report based on interviews of 360 riot survivors and their family members has already been submitted to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and State Legislative Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel.
Pointing out that Sikh riot victims were mostly employed in private sector, the report says that they are unskilled and work on daily wages. While some are self-employed, only a few are in government jobs.
According to the report, monthly income of most of the families belonging to riot survivors is in the range of Rs 20,000 or less. Their economic status has not improved since the time of riots.
“Frequency of unemployment is another challenge which affects their economic well-being. Youths of riot victim families are not highly employable as they lack skills and are not highly qualified”, the report points out.
The riots, according to the report, resulted in lack of access to good education, discontinuation of studies due to fear and the need to earn for families’ survival and other constraining factors due to death and destruction. However, the community had good access to education and fared well when they lived in mixed societies/localities. Now, they have become ghettoized owing to fear of threat to their lives after the 1984 massacre that has adversely affected education and businesses of even third generation of the Sikh riot families. They find security in numbers in their ghettoes, a trait that developed in Muslims several decades ago due to frequent communal riots. But Muslims over the period developed their own infrastructure like medical and schooling facilities in their own ghettoes to meet the requirement of the community, the Sikhs have so far failed to set up such facilities that is now affecting the growth and development of poor Sikhs.
The report highlights many social challenges facing the survivors that are in the form of low social status. While ghettoism has separated most of them from the majority community, their Sikh identity also gives them a feeling of isolation from the rest of the society. Low income and huge unemployment have made the community economically poor and backward.
According to the report, the Sikh riot victims are mostly concentrated in eight localities: Widows Colony in Tilak Vihar, Raja Garden, Punjabi Bagh, Chander Vihar, Hari Nagar, Rohini, Khayala and Vishnu Garden. Except Rohini, all colonies are located in West Delhi where majority of the Sikhs reside. Consequently, safety and security of the families is not a major concern in these colonies.
The government, the report says, had allotted flats to women in Tilak Vihar whose husbands were killed in riots. That locality is known as Widow Colony. “The widows have yet not been given ownership of the flats which are in dilapidated conditions as government is not doing the repairing work in the buildings”, points out the report. DMC chairman Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan says that when the properties have been built for the riot victims and allotted to them, the government should give them ownership rights as well. “It is surprising that none of the state governments in Delhi has paid attention to this aspect. This is very sad”, he says.
The report has highlighted one positive point of survivors that is housing. As many as 90 percent families live in their own houses which is a mark of stability in their lives.
The contribution of government schemes to the welfare of families belonging to riot victims, as per report, is very limited. Over 50 per cent of the respondent during study, said that government assistance was ineffective, 39 per cent rated the schemes moderately effective and only three per cent gave effective rating.
Most of the families have availed one benefit or another like houses, cash compensation and jobs. Monetary compensation was given by the government in phases, Rs 10, 000 to each registered victims in 1985 for fully burnt houses and Rs 5000 for partially burnt houses, Rs 10,000 in 1987 for those killed in the riots, Rs 3.5 lakh awarded by the Delhi High Court in 1996 to widows and families of those killed, Rs 3.5 lakh paid in 2006 to those injured and lost their properties and Rs 5 lakh paid in 2014 to next of kin of deceased.
The anti-Sikh riots had erupted on October 31, 1984 after assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh guards. Three thousand Sikhs were killed in the country during the riots and majority of them in Delhi. The anti-Sikh riots had continued for three consecutive days.