Kolkata

Minor in ‘guilty’ list for destroying property during anti-CAA protest

Lawyer Mannan Baliyan, representing some of the guilty, says he would approach HC

Among the 53 persons held guilty by an Additional District Magistrate-led panel for destroying public property during the December 20 protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is a minor. His mother Salma (name changed) said her son is 14 and had not stepped out of home after his name appeared in the list 20 days after the protest. “He has stopped going to school out of fear. On December 20, he went out to pray at the Himayati Masjid and when the protests broke out, he rushed home. I feel somebody has given his name for money,” alleged Salma, whose husband works as a barber.

“He earns at the most ₹200 a day and we have seven children, including four girls. How does the government expect us to pay the penalty,” she asked. “My sons are learning haircutting. There is no point in going to school now,” she added.

‘Not provoking’

Shamshad, 62, whose two young sons, in their early 20s, figure in the list, said Shahnawaz was in his ancestral village on December 20. “Salman was helping police to defuse the situation. There are at least 400 witnesses who would say he was not provoking or throwing stones. Still, both my sons have been named,” said Shamshad, adding both work as labourers and earn not more than ₹200 a day.

Akram Akhtar, social activist and lawyer, said the U.P. government sent the notices on the basis of Allahabad High Court’s decision in the Shujauddin vs. State of U.P. (2010), wherein it issued guidelines for recovery of damages for destruction of public property during agitations.

“However, they failed to take into account that the decision of Justice Sudhir Agarwal clearly mentions that such agitations are usually led by political leaders and parties. The protest of December 20 was not led by any political leader or party. In case of individuals, the High Court said the person should be identifiable which, those named by the ADM, are refuting.”

Damage recovery

Mannan Baliyan, a lawyer representing 17 of those held guilty, said he would approach the High Court as in the Destruction of Public and Private Properties vs. State of A.P. and others (2009), the Supreme Court had made it incumbent on the High Courts, not State governments, to recover the damages. “The High Court has granted stay in a similar case in Kanpur,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 2:08:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/minor-in-guilty-list-for-destroying-property-during-anti-caa-protest/article30832899.ece

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