PRESSING ahead with recovery of damages related to the anti-CAA and NRC protests of December 2019, the Lucknow police last week arrested a man who pulls a cart for a living for failure to pay up. The city administration’s plans to auction two shops in Hasanganj area on July 16 as part of the process has hit a hurdle though, with one of the properties to be auctioned not owned by the person served the recovery notice.
On July 2, the administration sealed one more property — a welding workshop in Khurram Nagar owned by Mohammad Nafees, accused of vandalism and arson in Hazratganj area on December 19 last year. The date for its auction has not been announced yet.
Tehsildar (Sadar) Shambhu Sharan, who is overseeing the recovery process in Lucknow, said Mohammad Kaleem (38) was arrested on Friday as he had failed to pay the damages. “We will be arresting others too, but they are absconding. Kaleem will be released after 14 days and we will see what assets he has and will auction them.”
Kaleem is among 13 people ordered to pay Rs 21.76 lakh in all as damages in the Hasanganj area.
Kaleem’s wife Nargis says she can’t understand why he was arrested again, having been jailed for a month in December. The family of six live in a hut near Bithauli Chauraha in Lucknow. “Since the lockdown there has been no work,” she says.
The two shops up for auction on July 16 are a big garment store, NY Fashion Bazaar, and a junk shop. While Dharamveer Singh had been served recovery notice regarding NY Fashion Bazaar, on Tuesday, Munawwar Ali Siddiqui approached Tehsildar Sharan with papers for the property.
Sharan told The Indian Express, “I told him he should be present when the auction happens. Whatever is inside the shop will be auctioned, while the shop won’t be. He said the shop is empty. If there is nothing in the shop, we will see what has to be done next.”
Dharamveer, 28, who worked as an assistant manager at NY Fashion Bazaar, was arrested on December 19, and booked for rioting and attempt to murder apart from under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. Released on bail after a month and back home in Moradabad district, he said he was working at the outlet on a monthly salary of Rs 22,000.
“On December 19, I was sent to Siddiqui’s house to collect the keys to the store. Siddiqui had locked the shop as NY Fashion Bazaar had not paid rent, but with the money transferred, the shop was to be reopened. As I was going to the house, I was arrested. I kept telling police I was there only to pick up the keys. I did not know that rioting had happened in the area that day.”
Dharamveer said he was served the notice regarding property attachment while in jail. “I was told by my lawyer that nothing would happen.” He also claimed to have CCTV footage showing he was at another outlet of NY Fashion Bazaar from 10 am to 3.30 pm that day.
Siddiqui, who lives in Khadra in Hasanganj, said, “I don’t know who Dharamveer is. I had given the shop to a person from Delhi.”
He said he had no links with NY Fashion Bazaar any more. “I give my shop to several people, that does not make me liable for what the tenant does.”
The other property to be auctioned is Mahenoor Choudhary’s junk shop in Khadra area. Choudhary said the order was a big blow for people like him struggling to make ends meet since the lockdown.
Denying anything to do with the December 19 protests, Choudhary said, “I was merely passing by when I saw a crowd and stopped to see what was happening. Police took a photograph of me at that time. I am not seen indulging in any kind of violence.”
Choudhary was arrested from his home in Khadra on December 24. Facing the same charges as Dharamveer, he too spent a month in custody before bail.
With earnings of average Rs 500 a day earlier, Choudhary said he somehow kept his family of five, including three children aged between 9 and 15, afloat. He adds that he had failed to reply to the recovery notice earlier as he was in jail. “Now, the administration has sealed my store… It was owned by my father, and my two brothers also have a share in it.”
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