Don’t Discriminate in Compensation
ON January 6, Brinda Karat, Member, Polit Bureau of Communist Party of India (Marxist) wrote a letter to the chief minister of Delhi urging him to give compensation to the families of minor victims who were killed in the communal violence in north east Delhi.
Brinda Karat said that she recently re-met the family members of two victims, both minors, who were killed in the communal violence in north east Delhi. She said: “they informed me of the discrimination in the compensation given for the killing of a minor in the government’s ‘compensation package’ scheme. The compensation for an adult who was killed is ten lakh rupees whereas the compensation for a minor is put at five lakh rupees.”
She wrote, there were two such victims, Nitin Paswan the 15-year-old son of Ram Sugarak, and Amin, the 17-year-old son of Shahabuddin.
Presumably, the difference in compensation is because an adult is an earning member and the death of an earning member deprives the family of an income, thus more compensation is required. This understanding devoid of compassion itself is flawed but even within this framework, unfortunately, the usual definition used of an “earning member” is not sensitive to the reality in poor self-employed families where children even while attending school, take on adult responsibilities as far as assisting in family enterprises is concerned.
Even on these grounds, she wrote, both Nitin and Amin helped in the family earnings. Nitin’s father is an owner of goods carrying handcart and Nitin often helped him during his free time after school and on school holidays. Amin was an apprentice in a motorbike repair shop and from time to time assisted his family. Therefore, if the ground for compensation is the income loss to surviving members of the family of the victim then in both cases the victims’ families are eligible for the full compensation of ten lakh rupees.
But in addition, she stressed that “I believe the Delhi government must take into consideration the huge emotional loss, injury and trauma suffered by the parents of a minor, killed in the terrible violence. This as we all know is incalculable. It is only appropriate that a family suffering the loss of a child should be compensated a fair amount as an expression of the sympathy of the government and society. In both the cases given the socio-economic profile of the families when both the earning members are without a fixed income, it would be in the interests of justice to extend the compensation to the ten lakhs rupees which victims of the families have received from the Delhi government.”
Brinda Karat reminded the chief minister, “as you know the first death anniversary of their children will fall next month, at the end of February. It will be an important message of justice from your government that both these families receive the remaining five lakh rupees on such a sad occasion.”