Uttar Pradesh's Rampur district administration has become the first in the state to initiate the process of recovery of damage to public property, incurred during the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that turned violent.
The move comes days after around 18 people were killed during the anti-CAA protests in the state and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath issued a warning that "revenge will be taken".
Identical notices were sent to 28 people, holding them responsible for acts of violence and damage to government property and seeking recovery of Rs 14.86 lakhs. Among those who received the notice include an embroidery worker and a spice hawker.
"We issued notices to 28 persons whose roles were found by police during investigation. Police submitted evidences against them. They (28) have been asked to submit their response within a week, otherwise the process of recovery against them will be started," The Indian Express quoted Rampur District Magistrate Aunjaneya Kumar Singh as saying.
"Of the 28, a few have been arrested while raids are 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," Singh added.
Meanwhile, the embroidery worker's mother said that she doesn't even have enough money to hire a lawyer for her son, who is in police custody. "I have not received any recovery notice from the district administration so far. We don't even have money to arrange a lawyer for Zameer. How can we pay any compensation?" she asked.
Police crackdown in UP
The notice was issued even after videos of police vandalising public and private property in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar surfaced online. Several instances of police brutality while dealing with peaceful protestors have been caught on camera.
An 11-year-old in Varanasi died in a stampede caused by police lathi charge during the protests. A video suggests that the police action was on a large but peaceful group of demonstrators.
Several reports of police barging in houses in Lucknow and Bijnor have come out, where women spoke of policemen beating them up and vandalising property, even when the men they had come looking for were away.
Around 5,400 people have been taken under custody till now and around 705 have been sent to jail. The government is also expected to invoke the National Security Act (NSA) against 250 demonstrators.
In the midst of a police crackdown, Yogi Government has decided to issue the notices on the basis of information provided by local police.
In the notice, loss of property worth Rs 14,86,500 has been cited. It lists, among others, 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, three helmets, three body protectors.