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Parties will have to pay for damage, says home minister

mumbai Updated: Jun 01, 2012 02:03 IST
HT Correspondent

The Bharat Bandh called by the Opposition over the petrol price hike will cost political workers and activists dearly.

Home minister RR Patil on Thursday said political parties would have to pay for damages caused to public vehicles and property. “We are assessing the damages and once the panchnamas are done, we will recover the losses from the parties," he said.

The recovery process will be initiated by collectors of every district. Patil added that miscreants will not be allowed to go scot free.

He informed that in Mumbai till late afternoon on Thursday, 97 vehicles had been damaged, with 32 cases registered and 138 people arrested for these offences.

"The bandh got some minor response and other than incidents of stone pelting there was no violence," he said.

In the past, the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have had to pay for damages done for the bandh called for rising prices in 2010. Patil has even made activists from his own party, the Nationalist Congress Party, cough up damages for vandalising a Vishwa Hindu Prishad office in Nasik in 2008.

However, political parties have learnt from past mistakes and have told workers this time that they would be individually liable for paying damages.

On Thursday, both the Sena and BJP denied indulging in any acts of vandalism.

The state government had amended the Bombay Police Act to grants powers to the collector to initiate recovery procedure by deciding the compensations, persons liable to pay it, etc. Officials said this ordinance had gone a long way to reduce vandalism during political agitations and bandhs.

The ordinance was inspired from a 2005 high court judgement which made the Sena and BJP pay Rs 20 lakh each for damages caused during a bandh in 2003 to protest against the Ghatkopar blasts.