New Delhi: 17 Delhi families who lost members in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots today received five lakh rupee cheques from Home Minister Rajnath Singh in a move that the BJP's critics say is linked to polls in the capital early next year.
The BJP's Delhi chief Satish Upadhyay was present when Mr Singh handed out cheques to the families at a function.
"Forget lakhs, even crores cannot assuage their pain or bring them justice," Mr Singh said at the event, calling the riots "genocide."
A hike in compensation to five lakh rupees was announced by the government in October, five months after the BJP came to power.
Sources say the government wanted to begin the process before the election code of conduct kicks in; popular announcements can't be made after dates are announced for the polls, due in February.
Some of those who received cheques today said they had received a call from the government two days ago.
Bhagwanti kaur, who lost her husband, father and nephew in the Sultanpuri colony during the riots, was among those who came hoping to get higher compensation today.
"It's been very difficult to bring up my four girls , the government gave me a job as a peon but it's not been since my retirement four years ago. I earned money washing dishes," Bhagwanti Kaur told NDTV.
"The Sikh community gets attention during elections," said Manpreet singh, whose father was killed in a mob attack in Sultanpuri.
Over 2,600 people will receive the enhanced compensation; the beneficiaries are being verified by a committee headed by a judge.
Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has accused the BJP of trying to win over Sikh voters ahead of the Delhi polls.
"Only 17 families are being provided compensation just months before the elections and the BJP president is present on stage. This is clear opportunism," said AAP's Ashutosh, adding, "We urge people not to be fooled by these gimmicks."
The BJP has long championed the cause of Sikhs targeted after the assassination in 1984 of former prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Some 3,000 people were killed in violence by mobs allegedly led by Congress leaders.