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CAA protests: Two shops sealed in Lucknow to recover damages to public and private property

Lucknow: A vehicle torched allegedly by protestors during a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Madeyganj outpost in Lucknow, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019

Lucknow: A vehicle torched allegedly by protestors during a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Madeyganj outpost in Lucknow, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019   | Photo Credit: PTI

“My mind is not working anymore. They have snatched my rozi-roti [source of livelihood],” exclaimed a distraught Mahenoor Chaudhary, whose little scrap store in Lucknow was sealed by the administration under its drive to recover the damages to public and private property during last December’s protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

In a first such step in the case, the Lucknow had administration sealed two shops on Tuesday, the other being a garment store whose assistant manager Dharamvir Singh is among the accused.

“I had gone home for lunch. When I returned, they had sealed the shop,” said Mr. Chaudhary.

Notices issued to 57 persons

The two men are among the 13 accused in the Hasanganj violence case in which the administration had issued recovery notices of ₹21.76 lakh. The Lucknow administration had issued notices to 57 persons spread over four police stations amounting to ₹1.56 crore. Their names, photos and addresses were also displayed on hoardings erected across Lucknow in a bid to “name and shame”.

Shambu Sharan, Tehsildar Lucknow, said the two shops were sealed in continuation of the recovery certificates issued by the ADM Trans-Gomti court against the violence on December 19, 2019. Before sealing them, Mr. Sharan said the accused were issued notices and given time to pay up.

Mr. Chaudhary said he was falsely implicated in the case. “I had nothing to do with the incident or the protest. I was returning home from my shop [on December 19] when the police Inspector was making videos of people on the road after the violence. I didn’t have any stone or lathi in my hand in the photograph [shown by the police in the ADM court] nor was I raising slogans,” he said.

Mr. Chaudhary was then picked up by the police from his shop five days later.

Even before the lockdown, Mr. Chaudhary struggled to make ends meet and educate his three children, aged 10, 13 and 15. The sealing of the shop has thrown his life into a new crisis.

In a February 13 order, seen by The Hindu, the ADM court had rejected Mr. Chaudhary’s argument that he was implicated simply because he lived in the area. The police alleged that Mr. Chaudhary was identified at the protest site in Khadra through photographs and videography but did not pinpoint his alleged role.

The sealing of the shops has alarmed the other accused in the case, including S.R Darapuri, retired IPS officer who the police alleged was a ‘catalyst’ in the protests. On June 12, Mr. Darapuri was issued a demand notice by the administration asking him to pay up ₹64.37 lakh within seven days or face punitive action under the UP Revenue Code 2006, which could mean his arrest or seizure of property. “This is all illegal activity [recovery] to create terror,” the septuagenerian said.

High Court notice to State govt.

On pleas filed by Mr. Darapuri and senior lawyer Mohammad Shoaib, also issued a demand notice, the Allahabad High Court on June 17 issued a notice to the State government, which sought 10 days time to respond. The matter is listed for the second week of July.

“As such the matter is sub judice. They should not take any steps [for recovery],” said Mr. Darapuri.

He also says the question of whether the ADM is competent to issue such recovery notices was also pending before the Supreme Court since March.

The police recently filed chargesheet in the December 19 violence cases but the trial is yet to start.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 7:46:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/caa-protests-two-shops-sealed-in-lucknow-to-recover-damages-to-public-and-private-property/article31963347.ece

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