Taking cue from UP Police, Delhi cops to make rioters pay for property damage
Taking a leaf out of the playbook of Uttar Pradesh police, the Delhi Police has decided to recover the cost of damages to public and private property during the communal riots in north-east Delhi from the protestors themselves by imposing fines or attaching their properties, two Delhi Police officers familiar with development said on condition of anonymity.
A direction has already been issued in this regard to the Crime Branch’s Special Investigation Teams (SITs) and the local police to coordinate with civic authorities and Delhi government to assess the damage, one of the officers added.
The SITs have been tasked with identifying those who committed arson, looting, or otherwise damaged properties during the riots over four days and across almost all of north-east Delhi. It is suspected that several local criminals, including those with criminal records, took advantage of the situation in Jafrabad, Kardampuri, Karawal Nagar, Maujpur, Bhajanpura and other areas, and went on a rampage.
Delhi Police on Friday said they have identified at least 1000 rioters and have so far detained or arrested at least 630.
It will take time to assess the actual damage but Delhi Police believe properties worth hundreds of crores have been destroyed between Sunday and Wednesday. Police said they have also sought the help of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation and power discom BSES to access the damage, to restore utilities, and also to clear the debris and piles of torched vehicles from the riot-hit area.
The UP administration, in December 2019, sent notices to at least 400 people identified as rioters to recover the damages to properties during anti-CAA protests in the state. It cited the Supreme Court’s previous recommendations and a 2011 Allahabad high court order to justify the decision.
As first reported by HT on Friday, the Delhi Fire Services has reported damage/arson to 79 houses, 52 shops, five godowns, three factories, four mosques, and two schools in the riots. It is expected that these numbers will grow.
The two SITs formed by Delhi Police to investigate the riots have been directed to register all complaints/incidents, which the local police may have missed, while a dedicated team has been tasked to examine all the videos, pictures and messages doing rounds on the social media. The police are also checking video recordings from the drones they used during the violence on Tuesday and Wednesday to identify more rioters.
On Friday, in a press conference, Delhi Police spokesperson MS Randhawa said that at least 630 men have been detained and arrested. He said a total of 148 first information reports have been registered so far, including 25 under sections of the Arms Act against illegal possession and use of firearms.