The Indian railways is contemplating court action to seek compensation for loss to property due to violent protests against the passage of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, a first for the national transporter.
A high -level railways’ reform committee has urged the ministry of railways to file a civil suit for recovery of damage to public property, in consonance with Supreme Court’s guidelines on damage to public property caused in agitation, senior government officials said.
The Railways has incurred a loss of Rs 90 crore on account of its properties damaged in protests in its eastern railway zones in the North East and West Bengal, HT reported Saturday.
‘We will be moving court for the first time as we have the recommendation of a committee that in case of serious damage, we will move for a civil damage suit in the courts through the commercial department. We are just contemplating it right now and a final call is yet to be taken. The committee to cognizance of SC’s guidelines on damage to public property, Railway Protection Force (RPF) DG Arun Kumar said.
Following the aftermath of the Jat agitation caused in Haryana in 2016, the apex court had said they cannot allow people to hold the country to ransom in the name of agitation. The court had framed guidelines to punish people who are involved in damaging and destroying public property.
Union minister of state for railways Suresh Angadi last week had waded into a controversy by saying people who destroy public property should be ‘shot at sight’. ‘…I strictly warn concerned district administration and railway authorities, if anybody destroys public property, I direct as a Minister, shoot them at sight,’ he had said.
Angry mobs have vandalised trains and railway stations in the region in the aftermath of the passage of the Act. A railway station in Chabua town of Assam’s Dibrugarh district, the home town of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, was set on fire by protesters on December 11. The Panitola railway station in Tinsukia district was also torched on the same day.
As many as 85 FIRs have been registered cases for destruction of property, trespassing and other criminal cases.
Indian Railways have lost property worth Rs 90 crore, with Eastern Railways, mostly spread across West Bengal, accounting for 80% of those losses pegged at Rs 72.19 crore, during the protests in the past 10 days.
The protests first erupted across the North-east, where local people feel the law will trigger an influx of undocumented Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, but soon spread to various parts of the country.
Protests intensified after police entered the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi on December 15, lobbed tear gas shells and allegedly thrashed students and other protesters. The police also entered Aligarh Muslim University and engaged in a five-hour long clash inside the campus with students, due to which several scholars and even policemen were injured.
Meanwhile, Sonowal said that a Special Investigation Team has been constituted to probe the acts of violence during protests against the CAA.
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