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Protests in Mumbai: Damage to vehicles estimated at ₹88 lakh, police to submit report

Report expected to be submitted to collectors next week so as to initiate process to recover compensation

mumbai Updated: Jan 21, 2018 08:48 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Mumbai protests,Dalit protests,Mumbai police
Protesters set a bike on fire in Powai on January 3.(Satish Bate/HT)

Public and private vehicles suffered damages worth an estimated Rs 88 lakh during the recent Dalit agitations in Mumbai, on January 2 and 3, reveals a police report.

The report will be submitted to Mumbai’s city and suburban collectors’ offices next week to initiate the process of recovering compensation.

Sources in the Mumbai police said a total of 674 vehicles were vandalised during the two-day protests. Of these, 263 were BEST buses and 171 were state transport (ST) buses and other large vehicles, including three wireless police vans. Mobs also damaged another 240 private vehicles, which includes both two- and four-wheelers, damaging them with rods and stones. Many vehicles struck in traffic jams owing to road blocks by protesters were targeted.

At least 29 vehicles were damaged in Wadala alone, the police said.

The BEST has pegged the damage to its 263 vehicles at Rs20.5 lakh, caused by protesters throwing stones and shattering glass windows, windshields and lights. The damages to the 171 state transport buses and other government vehicles has been estimated at Rs10 lakh.

Assessment made by insurance companies puts the damages to 240 private vehicles at Rs58 lakh. Apart from vandalising vehicles stuck and/or parked on roads, in areas such as Powai and Ghatkopar, offenders also entered housing societies and vandalised vehicles inside the premises.

Every vehicle damage assessment report has been filed along with police panchnama to prove that miscreants caused the damages during the stir. The panchnama includes eyewitness accounts, and in some cases, even photographs and video footages.

Once the police submit the report to the city and suburban collectors, the collectors will hold hearings for each of the individual cases, by summoning the accused to determine why they agitated and who called for it.

While the stir on January 2 was more spontaneous in nature — people came out on the roads to protest the previous day’s violence at Bhima Koregaon — the protests on January 3 were held in response to the call for Maharashtra bandh given by Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar, who is the founder of the Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM), police sources said.

At least 100 miscreants have been booked for hooliganism during the protests, which were by and large peaceful.

Collecting compensation, however, will be no easy task, despite a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that damages caused by rioting and violence during agitations should be collected from the organiser/s of a protest. “As per the ruling, the onus of paying compensation rests with the organisers of the event,” a police source said.

Collectors also have the power to attach the organisers’ properties so as to generate money to compensate for the damages.

Mumbai suburban collector Dipendra Singh Kushwaha said his office would appoint a tehsildar for recovery once the police submit the report. “Compensation will be recovered from the individual or the organiser/s as per procedure,” he said, adding, “The report will name the organiser/s.”

This is the second major agitation that Mumbai has seen since the 2009 SC ruling. In 2011, the Azad Maidan riots had led to an inquiry that pegged the damages to public and private property at Rs2.74 crore. Madina-Tul-Ilm, a little-known educational trust in Kurla that had sought police permission to hold the rally, was slapped with a notice to pay the damages. The outfit, however claimed that Raza Academy was the main organiser, after which the collector summoned its office-bearers. However, the Academy denied that it had called for any rally and refused to pay. Seven years later, compensation has not yet been recovered.

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 15:12 IST