The district administration in Moradabad has issued a showcause notice to poet-turned-politician Imran Pratapgarhi, saying that it “can recover Rs 1.04 crore” from him in connection with the anti-CAA protests taking place in the city since January 29. According to the notice, the amount was calculated based on the daily cost of deploying security personnel during the protests.
“It has been noted that a large group of a particular section has been gathering for protests at Eidgah on your call even when Section 144 is in place. Keeping in mind the law and order situation, one extra platoon of RAF and another company-and-a-half section of PAC has been deployed, which costs Rs 13.42 lakh per day. Therefore, the administration can recover 1.04 crore from you,” says the notice issued by Additional City Magistrate Rajesh Kumar.
The notice was issued on February 6, a day before Pratapgarhi visited the region to address protesters. Pratapgarhi, who unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls from Moradabad on a Congress ticket, joined the protest on February 7.
“A day before he participated in the protest, a notice under Section 111 of CrPC (magistrate order against any person who is likely to commit breach of peace) was issued to him, asking him to sign a bond (saying) that peace will be maintained. He was asked to appear on February 12, but he did not do so,” said Kumar.
Pratapgarhi was asked to sign a personal bond of Rs 10 lakh and deposit two sureties of the same amount, undertaking to maintain peace.
“The notice has a reference to the fact that so far, a total expenditure of about Rs 1.04 crore has been spent on police forces deployed at the protest site. There is a warning that this amount can be recovered from him,” said Kumar.
Terming it a witch hunt, Pratapgarhi said this was a way to “gag” protesters. “The UP government doesn’t want people to speak against officials. I had not visited Moradabad for a very long time before February 7. There was no law and order problem. This is clear targeting, and police want to shirk responsibility,” he told The Sunday Express.
“The district administration is using different methods to scare protesters, but we will not be afraid. I went to the protest site in Moradabad on February 7, and, in my speech, I did not use any words which may disturb law and order,” he said, adding that he would move court against the notice.
Police claimed the notice was preventive in nature and did not reflect the actual amount to be recovered. “As per procedure, another order is issued if the individual is found flouting the notice. This is not the same as a recovery notice since no public property was damaged. This acts as a deterrent to prevent a person from possibly causing a law and order situation,” said Amit Kumar Anand, SP City Moradabad.
Police further claimed that such notices have been issued to 150 other people to prevent a law and order situation arising from protests in the district. Protests have been taking place in Eidgah since January 29, and the cost of police deployment has been calculated since the first day, police said.
Earlier, the state government had issued notices to individuals asking them to pay for damage to public property in the violence that erupted during anti-CAA protests in December.
According to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 anyone “who commits mischief by doing any act in respect of any public property” is liable to a jail term of up to five years and a fine or both. Provisions of this law can be coupled with relevant sections of the IPC.
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