The Lucknow district administration in Uttar Pradesh has put on hold recovery notices served to 53 people who allegedly indulged in vandalism against government property during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in December, PTI reported. The process to recover Rs 1.41 crore has been halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The process to recover damages and of attaching properties of those involved in the state capital is on hold as only essential activities are going on,” Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash told the news agency. “Once, the lockdown is over, action will certainly be taken.” A nationwide lockdown has been imposed till May 3 to combat the pandemic.

Uttar Pradesh has so far reported 2,053 cases of Covid-19, including 34 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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Property was damaged in Khadra, Parivartan Chowk, Thakurganj and Kaiserbagh areas of Lucknow on December 20 during violent protests against the new citizenship law. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had asked officials to assess the damages and realise penalty from those involved.

The administration had served notices to the 53 people on the basis of police reports, and the deadline for recovery was the first week of April. Following this, attachment of properties of the accused was to begin. The administration had on March 6 put up hoardings at several places in Lucknow showing the photos, names and addresses of the 53 accused.

Many of those who have been named in the hoardings are currently out on bail. An analysis of 13 court orders from Muzaffarnagar, Varanasi and Lucknow by showed that judges are granting bail to many of those arrested because the police have been unable to put forward evidence.

The Adityanath government had issued notices to hundreds of people across several districts in December, seeking damages for destruction of public property. At least 295 people in the districts of Lucknow, Kanpur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal, Rampur, Bijnor and Bulandshahr reportedly received the notices in connection with property damage worth at least Rs 1.9 crore. In February, the Allahabad High Court stayed a similar recovery notice issued to a Kanpur resident.

The punitive measure taken by the state government came amid allegations of police excess during the clashes that erupted on December 20. At least 18 people were killed during the demonstrations – a large number of them from firearm injuries.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, notified on January 10, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been criticised for excluding Muslims. At least 28 people died across the country in protests against the legislation in December.