The Rampur district administration in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday sent notices to 28 people seeking an explanation on why recoveries should not be made for damage worth Rs 14.86 lakh caused during anti-Citizenship Act protests, The Indian Express reported. This is first step towards recovering the money, days after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath vowed to “take revenge”.
“We issued notices to 28 persons whose role were found by police during investigation,” said Rampur District Magistrate Aunjaneya Kumar Singh. “Police submitted evidences against them. They  have been asked to submit their response within a week, otherwise the process of recovery against them will be started.”
In the notice, loss of property worth Rs 14,86,500 has been cited. It lists a police jeep of Bhot police station (Rs 750,000), motorcycle of a sub-inspector (Rs 65,000), motorcycle of City Kotwali police station (Rs 90,000), wireless set, hooter/loudspeaker, 10 dandas [batons], three helmets and three body protectors, among other things. The notices were issued on the basis of information provided by local police who have accessed video clips and photographs. The police have also collected CCTV footage.
The decision to recover the damages from the alleged rioters was issued on December 21. It is based on a 2010 Allahabad High Court order that allowed the administration to recover any losses from those who caused it. On December 19, Chief Minister Adityanath had said that there was no place for violence in a democracy. “In the name of opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Congress, SP [Samajwadi Party] and Left parties have pushed the entire country into fire,” he had said. “There was violence in Lucknow and Sambhal and we will deal with it strictly. All property of those involved in damaging public assets will be seized and auctioned to compensate for the losses.”
Adityanath had further said that those who had damaged public property were caught on camera.
Among the 28 people who have been issued the notice are an embroidery worker and a hawker – both were arrested for violence during protests on December 21. Around 10 two-wheelers and several cars being set ablaze along with damage done to public property. At least 30 were reportedly injured, of which 12 were police personnel.
“I have not received any recovery notice from the district administration so far,” embroidery worker Zameer’s mother Munni Begum told The Indian Express. “We don’t even have money to arrange a lawyer for Zameer. How can we pay any compensation?” Zameer was arrested on Sunday. “They did not say why they were taking away Zameer,” said his mother. “My son, who has studied only till Class IV, is innocent. On the day of the violence, he was at home.”
Zameer’s neighbour Mehmood, who is a hawker of spices, was also arrested on Sunday. His brother-in-law Faheem said Mehmood too was home on the day of violence. “He lives in a rented accommodation and earns a meagre amount,” he told the newspaper. “How can he pay such a huge compensation sum?” Another labourer Pappu was also arrested on Sunday. His wife Seema said he was home on the day of violence.
The district magistrate admitted that of the 28 people who have been issued notices, a few have been arrested while raids were on to trace others. “An accused and his family can submit evidence to support their plea that they have been wrongly booked in the case,” he added.
Last week, around 60 shops in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district were sealed. The sealed shops were situated in Minakshi Chowk and Kachchi Sadak localities in Muzaffarnagar city.
Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens have engulfed India in the past two weeks. The protests saw peaceful marches as well as intense clashes between the police and the demonstrators. At least 24 people have died so far, including 17 in Uttar Pradesh alone.
Internet services were suspended across several cities in the state, including Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Agra, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Mathura, Meerut, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Bareli, Firozabad, Pilibhit, Rampur, Saharanpur, Shamli, Sambhal, Amroha, Mau, Azamgarh and Sultanpur. Internet services were restored in Aligarh district. They had been suspended on December 15.