The Meerut Municipal Corporation has so far estimated loss to the public property during anti-citizenship law protests to the tune of Rs 27 lakh, which will be recovered from vandals and arsonists.
The damage is related to levelling of dividers, uprooting of railings, etc during a six-hour protest in violence-hit Meerut on Friday. Other government agencies are also assessing the damage to police and private vehicles.
“We have sent our initial report, estimating damages of Rs 27 lakh, to District Magistrate (DM) Anil Dhingra. We will recover damages once we get the final list from the DM’s office of those involved (in vandalism),” said Municipal Commissioner Arvind Kumar Chaurasia.
Meerut City Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Pandey said around 100 shops in troubled areas were shut in the morning on Friday, which, he said, meant that their owners were aware of the ensuing violence.
“It is surprising that more than 100 shops in troubled pockets were closed in the morning on that day, while trouble started in the afternoon. This clearly means that these shop owners knew that violence would hit Meerut markets in a few hours. We are serving notices to the shop owners and will start the legal recovery process if we do not get a satisfactory reply them. We are taking extra care that no innocent person is held responsible,” said Pandey.
The Muzaffarnagar administration has already sealed 67 shops at Meenakshi Chowk for being shut in the morning on Friday. “We have collected evidence through video footage about these shops and sealed them. We will now serve notices to them and will take further action,” said Amit Kumar, Additional District Magistrate (Administration) of Muzaffarnagar.
Meerut was one of the most violence-hit districts in the state as five people died and a dozen, including cops, were injured during the protest against the new citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens on Friday. However, normalcy returned to the district on Monday.
Last week, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had announced that if arsonists and vandals failed to pay penalty for damaging public property, their property would be seized.
Meanwhile, after 78 hours of Internet blackout, services were restored in Meerut around 10.30 pm on Sunday. As many as 13 FIRs have been registered against 188 named people and 5,000 unidentified people. Twenty people have been arrested. “Our focus is to restore peace before arresting the named accused,” said a senior police officer.
“Those identified will be booked under the National Security Act. A Special Investigation Team, headed by an SP rank official, has been formed to probe these cases and ensure that none of the innocent should face police persecution. We have also put up posters of trouble makers at main crossings of Meerut, and anyone giving us clue about them will be rewarded,” said Meerut SSP Ajay Kumar Sahni.
While troubled pockets are still under round-the-clock vigil by security personnel, DM Dhingra has appealed to people not to get swayed by rumours especially on social media. “We are also holding regular meetings with peace committees in different localities,” said the DM.
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