The police in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district have issued notices to 60 persons asking them to pay Rs 57 lakh for destroying property during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported on Saturday.
Nehtaur Station House Officer Pankaj Tomar said that on December 20, 2019, a mob damaged government property and set a police jeep on fire during a protest against the Act. He also alleged that the mob attacked the police, due to which they had to fire in self-defence. Two men, Anas and Salman, were killed in the firing.
In December 2020, large-scale protests erupted across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Since then, many protestors in Uttar Pradesh have been asked to pay for allegedly damaging government property.
On February 11, the Supreme Court had directed the state government to withdraw notices issued to protestors. The court had questioned how additional district magistrates were assessing damage to property and had said that this task had to be done by a judicial officer.
On February 18, the Uttar Pradesh government told the court that it had withdrawn 274 notices asking protestors to pay damages, The Indian Express reported. A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant had directed the government to refund money that had been recovered through the notices.
The court, however, allowed the state government to issue notices under a law enacted in 2020 – the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property Act.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act provides citizenship to refugees from six non-Muslim religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.
The Act, however, is yet to be implemented as its rules have not been framed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In May, Home Minister Amit Shah had said that the law will be enforced as soon as the pandemic ends.
The Centre claims that the law only seeks to provide relief to members of persecuted communities living in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. However, critics fear that the Citizenship Amendment Act, clubbed with the National Register of Citizens, will be misused to target Muslims in the country.
The National Register of Citizens is meant to be a list of legal Indian citizens. It was compiled after two draft versions and excluded 19 lakh applicants when it was published in Assam in August 2019.