The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gujarat balm before battle for UP

New Delhi, March 22: Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections, the Centre has announced a rehabilitation package for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots on the lines of that drawn up for the 1984 anti-Sikh massacre.

The Centre came up with the package in the wake of complaints about the state government’s failure to provide adequate relief.

According to the plan cleared by the Union cabinet tonight, immediate relatives of those killed in the riots will get an ex-gratia of Rs 3.5 lakh, in addition to the money already paid by the state government. The official death toll in the riots was 1,169.

Each of the 2,548 injured will get Rs 1.25 lakh, including what the state has paid.

The entire package will cost Rs 106.57 crore, parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said. It also includes Rs 30.10 crore paid by the state government for damage to residential property and Rs 17.18 crore for uninsured commercial or industrial premises.

Other than the compensation, the rehabilitation package promises that children of those who died in the riots will be given preference for jobs in the paramilitary forces, Indian Reserve Battalions, state police forces, public sector undertakings and central government departments.

The Centre is also planning to launch a special recruitment drive for the riot-affected families, to ensure that those who lost their jobs get re-employment. Pension will be given to those who were forced to give up their jobs because of the riots but have since crossed the retirement age, the government said.

Although the package was in sight for some time now, the government has timed its announcement a month ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh where the Congress is trying hard to woo back the Muslim voters. Elections in Gujarat are also due this year, in November.

The party has already come under attack from the BJP, which accuses it of practising the politics of minority appeasement.

The package is based on the recommendation of the Union home ministry, which had consulted the National Minorities Commission. A team of the commission had visited the state recently.

In another decision, the cabinet put its stamp of approval on providing security support to the organisers of the World Cup in the West Indies. India has sent three Intelligence Bureau officials, two bomb disposal squads from the National Security Guard and officials from Delhi police.

The security apparatus would cost the government Rs 2.58 crore.

Retirement age

A lieutenant general in the armed forces medical services will now retire at 61 while the director-general will retire at 62, the cabinet has decided.

Officers of the rank of lieutenant general will have a two-year tenure or retire at 61, whichever is earlier, but not before turning 60, Das Munshi said.

Similarly, the director-general will have a three-year tenure or retire on at 62, whichever is earlier, but not before turning 60. The decisions will ensure that the officers do not retire before the retirement age fixed for the lower rank — 60 years, Das Munshi said.

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