Government releases aid for Gujarat violence victims


New Delhi : The central government has disbursed Rs.705 million for assistance to the victims of the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat, which goes to assembly polls by December.

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“The centre has made Rs.70.55 crores available to the Gujarat government for providing additional ex-gratia assistance to the victims of the communal violence of 2002 in the state,” the home ministry statement said Thursday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this year announced the relief funds for the victims of the sectarian strife that claimed 1,169 lives and left hundreds injured, and damaged property worth millions of rupees.

In case of death, an ex-gratia assistance of Rs.350,000 would be paid in addition to the assistance already given by the state government, while in case of injury, involving 2,548 cases, an ex-gratia assistance of Rs.125,000 would be paid minus the assistance given by the state, according to the statement.

The entire expenditure on payment of ex-gratia in both categories of cases will be borne by the central government.

The central government in a letter last week asked the state government to ensure that the claims are settled and the utilisation certificates are sent to the ministry within 45 days, the statement.

The central government’s move comes amid allegations from civil society and NGOs that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state had not provided assistance to the affected people, mostly from the minority Muslim community.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi had criticised the prime minister’s announcement, seeking relief also for the victims of the train bogey burning incident of Feb 27, 2002, which sparked the violence.

The relief funds have been released at a time the BJP and the opposition Congress are preparing for assembly polls, due by December.