Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday said the state government will recover damages for the destruction caused to public and private properties by the protesters during the violent protest against the Centre’s new military recruitment scheme – Agnipath.
“Recovery will be made from people who will be found involved in the violence,” Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said here.
During the protests in 14 districts since Friday after the Centre unveiled the new recruitment scheme, youth protesters damaged trains, buses and vehicles and set them on fire at several places. Several private and government properties were also damaged in stone-pelting, police said. Police have so far registered 49 FIRs, and arrested 525 people, with 145 booked for breach of peace.
Sources in the police said that they initially adopted a “lenient” approach towards the Agnipath protesters. “The strategy was changed after anti-social and political elements got involved in the protests… We had to then take strict steps by registering FIRs and arresting the culprits,” said a senior police officer.
In the wake of anti-CAA protests, the UP government, led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had brought a law in 2020 granting sweeping powers to a tribunal, including collecting compensation ex-parte if required, that is, without hearing the individual who is accused of vandalism. Further, the law placed the burden of proving the absence of any “nexus” linked to the protest, during which damage to public or private property was caused, on the individual facing charges.
After the June 3 and June 10 protests in Kanpur and Prayagraj over the remarks made by now-suspended BJP leaders against the Prophet, the UP government had also decided to recover damages for the destruction of properties from the accused.
Earlier in the day, police made elaborate security arrangements over the bandh called by a group of unidentified people on social media. Apart from civil police, 141 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 10 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) were deployed in the “sensitive districts”.
“Bharat Bandh call was given on social media though no group had owned it, the police were on alert since morning having made elaborate arrangements with the vast deployment of the force… No trouble was reported from anywhere and the conditions were fully under control. There has been no impact of the bandh call anywhere in the state,” the ADG said.
In the state capital Lucknow, all business establishments and offices remained open and there was normal traffic on the roads since the morning, he added.
Meanwhile, district police chiefs have been directed by the chief minister to take the help of the Sainik Kalyan Board and ex-servicemen to explain to young aspirants about the new recruitment scheme “so that their doubts are cleared”.
Police have also been asked to seek help from directors of coaching institutes, which impart training to youth keen to join the Army, to convince the aspirants about the new hiring scheme.