October 09, 2016

India: UP Government agreed to a Rs 25-lakh "compensation" for Dadri suspect's kin

The Telegraph - October 9, 2016

Lakhs for Dadri suspect's kin
Imran Ahmed Siddiqui

New Delhi, Oct. 8: Uttar Pradesh authorities have agreed to a Rs 25-lakh "compensation" for the family of Ravi, an accused in Mohammed Akhlaque's lynching whose coffin had been draped with the Tricolour after he died in custody on Tuesday.

Security experts and army veterans said that never before had the family of a murder accused, whose post-mortem report says he died of natural causes, been promised government compensation.

"This is the first time in India's history that the family of a murder accused will get compensation and so much of official recognition," said a retired lieutenant general, H.S. Panag, who had earlier tweeted on a possible "deal" between the family and the state government.

"Nothing can be more shocking and horrifying. It's complete madness everywhere and shows where our country is heading to," he told The Telegraph.

Bisara village, where a mob beat Akhlaque to death a year ago on suspicion of cow slaughter, had preserved Ravi's Tricolour-draped coffin claiming he was tortured to death and seeking Rs 1 lakh for his family and a job for his wife.

Ravi's family agreed to cremate the 22-year-old taxi driver last night only after district authorities promised a Rs 25-lakh compensation on the state government's behalf.

A local police officer said that according to the final post-mortem report, Ravi died of "multi-organ failure and respiratory problems". Jail authorities had said he had been suffering from high fever, probably chikungunya or dengue.

The National Human Rights Commission, however, had sought a report on the death from the state government.

Former Delhi police commissioner Ved Marwah said the compensation had been given with an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections.

"The BJP wants to polarise the election. The Akhilesh Yadav government got into such a bind that it had to announce the compensation."

N.P. Singh, the district magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar under which Bisara falls, gave the break-up of the promised compensation.

"The state government will give Rs 10 lakh, while NGOs will give another Rs 10 lakh. Local MP and Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma and BJP MLA Sangeet Som will give the remaining Rs 5 lakh," he said.

Sharma and Som, an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riot case, had visited Ravi's home yesterday and chastised the state's Samajwadi Party government for failing to provide the accused with "medical help on time".

District officials who asked not to be named said Sharma and Som had helped the administration broker the compensation deal, with the Samajwadi government agreeing to arrange for the additional Rs 10 lakh from the NGOs.

On the family's demand, the state government has also agreed to recommend a CBI probe.

A senior IPS officer at North Block said: "It's terrible that a person accused of lynching the father of a soldier gets a Tricolour draped around his coffin and is proclaimed a martyr. What kind of message do they want to convey?"

Akhlaque's elder son Mohammed Sartaj works for the air force. Referring to Sharma's visit to Ravi's home yesterday, Sartaj said: "He is our MP too but never visited our home when my father was murdered. Why this selective show of grief?"

According to the Flag Code of India, the Tricolour can be draped over the bier or coffin only at state, military or paramilitary funerals.

Lt Gen. Panag said: "It's an insult to the Tricolour but nobody is saying anything as if killing Akhlaque was a patriotic act."