The district collector has asked 60 people accused in the Azad Maidan riots of 2012 to pay for losses caused to the state. The organisers and participants however, have refused to pay up, claiming the damage was done by outsiders.
Two people were killed and 54 others, including police personnel, were injured in the riots that followed a protest march on August 11, 2012. The participants were said to have targeted policemen and used abusive, provocative language.
Initially, the government estimated the losses at Rs2.74 crore, for damage of public and private property and loss of human lives. This was challenged in the Bombay high court that asked state authorities to follow due process under the Maharashtra Police Act to ascertain the actual loss.
District collector and magistrate Shaila A, in an order issued a few weeks ago, said the losses amounted to Rs36.44 lakh. No private party claimed compensation, she said.
“No private person or organisation has claimed compensation towards the loss or damage during the riots, within the period of 45 days as per provisions of sections 51 and 52 of the Maharashtra Police Act. The total amount of losses of four government authorities comes to Rs36.44 lakh, which has been divided among the 60 accused for recovery,” the order stated. The collector’s office asked them to pay Rs60,744 each.
Damage to 26 police vehicles, arms and wireless mechanism added up to Rs25.78 lakh, damage to BEST buses totalled Rs4.06 lakh, the fire brigade suffered a loss of Rs3.15 lakh and the BMC’s loss was Rs3.45 lakh (including Rs3.12 lakh for damage to Amar Jawan memorial).
Raza Academy, one of the organisers, has decided to challenge the order. “We are moving court by claiming we have been unnecessarily held guilty for the losses, as we were not involved in the riots. It was caused by some anti-social elements. The permission granted for the protest march was not even issued in our name. We are not going to pay for the losses,” said Saeed Noori, general secretary of the academy.
An officer from the collector’s office said it was strange that no private party or the people injured in the riots claimed compensation.
The OB vans of three news channels were burnt along with their cameras. “We chose to claim losses through our insurance rather than from the government. The recovery of damages to OB vans, which cost around Rs1.25 crore each was 60% from insurance,” a source from one of the channels said, requesting anonymity.
Petitioner Sanket Satope, who had challenged the earlier estimate of 2.74 crore, has said the new estimate too did not take into account all losses. His advocate Sanjiv Punalekar said, “The loss to public and private property was much more than stated by the collector. The collector has not followed the due process as notification was not published in the government gazette to notify people concerned for claims of damage. Even the court has upheld our earlier contention. We are now filing a supplementary affidavit.”