• Anti-CAA Protests: 53 persons, mostly daily wagers, told to pay Rs 23 lakhs for ‘property damage’ in Muzaffarnagar

    Abdul Alim Jafri

    February 14, 2020

    Image Courtesy: Dheeraj Dhawan/Hindustan Times

    New Delhi: Nearly two months after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had warned anti-CAA-NRC protesters that he would take "revenge" from those who damaged property, the Muzaffarnagar district administration on Wednesday asked 53 persons to pay Rs 23 lakh collectively. Most of the persons sent notices are daily wagers.

    These 53 persons were among the 57 people who had issued notices soon after the anti- Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) protests saw violence on December 20.

    The decision to fix the amount at Rs 23, 41,290 was taken by a panel headed by the additional district magistrate (ADM), Amit Singh.

    The ADM directed the Revenue Department to collect the amount from the “guilty”for damaging public property during the protest.

    The panel had issued notices to 57 people and had sought a report from police and government departments to identify people responsible for the losses.

    During the inquiry, the panel withdrew notices against four people.

    “After hearing the replies of the people against whom the notices were served, an order has now been passed directing Tehsildar (Sadar) to recover damages of Rs 23.41 lakh from 53 people,” Singh told The Indian Express. “They will have to deposit the money collectively,” he added.

    The administration claimed that most of the damage to public property in Muzaffarnagar on December 20 was reported at Madani Crossing in Civil Lines area. One person was killed and several civilians, including some policemen, were injured in violence, said reports.

    Meanwhile, most of those who were issued notices are daily wage labourers and were being harassed by the police, their lawyer Munnar Hussain alleged.

    The lawyer also alleged that the panel rejected the objections filed by the 53 people, holding them responsible for damage to public property. It is learnt that over 51 cases were registered and 81 people arrested for the violence during the anti-CAA-NRC protest in Muzaffarnagar.

    Commenting on the notices, Tanveer Tyagi, a social activist based in Muzaffarnagar, told NewsClick, "Not a single person among those who have been sent notices was involved in the protest against CAA. Half of these 53 persons are poor, daily wage labourers, working at dhabas, rikshawpullers, etc. How will these people collect Rs 23 lakh which will cost almost Rs 45,000 each”?

    Tyagi said most of these people can barely manage one square meal and arranging such an amount would be torturous.

    “Ironically, during the violence, Muslims have also suffered losses, but recovery is being done only from them. There are many videos and photos that clearly show Right-wing people (some with faces covered) were involved in violence and looted Muslims shops at Meenakshi Chowk and damaged Sadat Hostel," he added.

    Notices in Sambhal Seek Rs 50 Lakh

    Over 295 people in the state capital of Lucknow, Kanpur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal, Rampur, Bijnor and Bulandshahr had reportedly received notices in connection with property damage worth at least Rs 1.9 crore in December.

    Meanwhile, Sambhal district administration has served notices, 11 people for taking part in a sit-in protest against CAA, asking them to sign a personal bond of Rs 50 lakh each, stating that peace would be maintained, an official confirmed on Thursday.

    The administration has identified 11 people for instigating the protesters, including several women, sitting on dharna and issued notices under CrPC Sections 107 (security for keeping peace) and 116 (inquiry as to truth of information) asking them to sign a personal bond of Rs 50 lakh each with an undertaking that they would not indulge in any disruptive activities, Sub Divisional Magistrate Rajesh Kumar told media persons.

    According to police, Muslim women are staging the protest round-the-clock in Nakhasa locality of the district since January 24.

    Dozen Arrested in Ghazipur

    The Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday arrested half a dozen students and activists for organising a march to Delhi for promoting communal harmony. The activists were marching from the iconic Chauri Chaura to Varanasi in the wake of protests over the contentious CAA and the repression by state police, resulting in the death of 23 people. Activists allege the police arrested them without citing any reason.

    Meanwhile, a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) court has issued notices to the activists to furnish bail bonds of Rs 2.5 lakh each and two gazetted persons per individual as guarantors.

    First published in NewsClick

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