LUCKNOW/ MUZAFFARNAGAR: Two days after UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath said that the cost of damage to properties during the anti-citizenship act protests would be “avenged” with fines collected from those responsible, the administration in several districts of the state started proceedings on Saturday by identifying and sealing properties of the accused.
Meanwhile, one more person died in Rampur in a fresh spate of violence on Saturday. Another person succumbed to his injuries late on Saturday that he received during recent Kanpur clashes. So far, 18 people have lost lives during statewide protests since Thursday.
Armed with a Supreme Court order of 2018, the administration in Muzaffarnagar sealed 50 shops belonging to alleged rioters who caused damage to public property. The sealed shops are all in the trouble-hit Minakshi Chowk and Kachchi Sadak areas of the town. SSP Abhishek Yadav told TOI, “We have to confirm why these shops were kept closed and mobs had also gathered around the shops. An investigation is on into the matter.”
The action, significant both because of the speed and scale, is part of the state-wide campaign the administration has worked out to punish those allegedly responsible for violence. Sources said the campaign is expected to act as a deterrent. Firozabad police chief Sachindra Patel said the NSA will be used against the rioters.
UP scans video footage to identify vandals, take action against them
The district administration in Lucknow, where mobs fought pitched battles with cops, formed a four-member panel to assess the damage. Chandra Vijay Singh, the district magistrate of Firozabad, the site of severe violence, said stringent action will be taken against the guilty. “At present we are identifying them,” he added.
DMs and police chiefs in several other districts confirmed to TOI that they had started identifying the accused through video footage to initiate action against them. The action of the Muzaffarnagar district administration itself sparked a protest. Additional chief secretary (home) Awanish Awasthi told TOI that the SC had passed a stringent order for state governments on October 1, 2018 that those responsible for damage to public property be made liable to compensate victims and reimburse the loss. The court ordered agencies to take appropriate action against such persons under provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
Sources in the government conceded that the action of the district administration, like any undertaken under the IPC, can be challenged in court, but were confident that the tough response will have a “salutary” impact on potential troublemakers. While collective fines for rioting have been slapped since colonial times, sealing of properties, with the possibility that they might be attached with a court’s concurrence, is arguably the first instance of such punishment in many years in the state.
Amid the daily protests and violence, the cause of casualties itself is likely to become a source of confrontation with the UP police chief sticking to his claim that his “boys” did not fire a single shot over the past 36 hours. “All the deaths took place in cross-firing and this will become clear in the post-mortem examination,” he said. “We are clear and transparent on this. If anyone died due to our firing, we will conduct a judicial inquiry and take action. But nothing happened from our side,” Singh asserted.
UP Police, who earlier accused rioters of using children as shields, have said that they recovered 405 shells of countrymade pistols from protest sites across the state. Police have so far arrested 705 people and lodged 124 FIRs.
While there were reports of anti-CAA protests turning violent in Rampur, Muzaffarnagar and Kanpur on Saturday, other districts remained quiet. The administration and police in over 20 violence-hit districts have started identifying the “perpetrators” for penal action.
In Gorakhpur, police claimed to have spotted 50 trouble-mongers from video footage. Their images have been put up at key road intersections to facilitate identification. Farrukhabad SP Anil Kumar Misra said, “Over 200 unidentified and 25 named persons have been booked in Farrukhabad city, while 31 have been named and 250 unknown have been booked in Maudarwaza. The assets of the accused would be seized to pay for the losses of public and private properties.
Source: Economic Times