The violent protests in New Delhi against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which started in December 2019 and culminated in widespread riots in the north-east part of the city claimed 53 lives and left 473 civilians and 108 cops injured.
Apart from loss of life and injuries, the protests and riots also inflicted huge damage to public property where vehicles, shops and houses of citizens were put on fire by the rioters. The anti-CAA protests brought public services like that of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) to a grinding halt causing financial loss to these state-run entities. CBSE Board exams for Class X and XII had to be postponed in scores of centres in North-East Delhi.
A chargesheet filed recently by crime branch of Delhi Police has tried to estimate the total loss to the government caused by the Anti-CAA protests and riots in the national capital. The severity can be gauged from the fact that between 24 to 27 February, a total of 242 arson calls were received by Delhi Fire services.
When the Police wrote to DMRC to assess the total damage caused to it, the corporation couldn’t give a specific figure. However, it reported that Jaffaradbad, Maujpur, Shiv Vihar, Gokulpuri, Jauhari Enclave remained closed for several hours between 23 to 25 February.
On 25 February, DMRC had to cancel 174 round trips between Maujpur-Shiv Vihar, 362 trips between Maujpur-Welcome stations and 23 trips between Shiv Vihar-Welcome stations. Though, it couldn’t report a specific amount, DMRC told the Police that it has occurred huge revenue loss due to closure of metro stations and disruption in services.
DTC reported that five of its busses were damaged during the anti-CAA protests which led to loss of Rs 2,65,113. Additionally, due to disruption in services, it suffered a loss of Rs 2,47,883.
Delhi Police also sought reports of damage to public property from Sub Divisional Magistrates of four North-East districts in Delhi which were worst affected by the riots.
In Yamuna Vihar, 365 cases of damage to uninsured commercial properties and 93 cases of damage to residential properties were reported. The government has disbursed a total relief amount of Rs 5,95,16,284 in this locality alone.
In Karawal Nagar, the local administration documented 323 and 349 cases of damage to commercial and residential properties respectively. Here, total relief amount disbursed to victims stood at Rs 6,49,67,539.
In Shahdara, the government has received total claims worth Rs 69,68,590 for loss of property. These are yet to be assessed and disbursed.
In Seelampur, survey wasn’t conducted to assess the damage to the government property but the government paid Rs 65 lakhs as payment to the family of the seven deceased and disbursed Rs 12,40,000 to 17 injured persons. Moreover, Rs 50,000 was paid for the damage to E-rickshaw, Rs 3,82,21,637 was paid for damage to commercial properties in 241 cases, Rs 3,09,70,000 for damage to residential properties in 124 cases. Another 117 cases were pending to be assessed for claims which amounted to Rs 1,41,25,401.
Rough calculation of disbursed amount (not accounting the pending claims) reveals that the Delhi government has spent north of Rs 20 crore.
This doesn’t include the loss to DMRC and the personal loss and inconvenience suffered by millions of citizens due to blockage of roads over a period of three months. It also doesn’t include the loss of revenue to commercial establishments which were located in areas such as Shaheen Bagh which remained closed for several weeks.
Additionally, not all riot victims, families of the deceased or injured have been given compensation. Once those figures are added, the burden on the government is going to go up.
It is pertinent to note here that after the riots, on 28 February, the Delhi government had decided to enhance the relief amount to riot victims. As per revised scale, the family of the deceased is entitled to Rs 10 lakh as compensation (Rs 5 lakh in case of a minor), Rs 5 lakh for serious injury leading to incapacitation, Rs 2 lakh for serious injury and Rs 20,000 for minor injury. For damage to residential properties, owners are supposed to receive anywhere between Rs 25,000 to Rs 5 lakh depending on the level of damage.
In the aftermath of the riots, the government received hundreds of claims for damage to their establishments. The amount claimed (as per self-assessment) were quite high in many cases and after the government audit, the money disbursed is low in almost all the cases as is evident from the chart of “claims vs money received” provided by the Police in the chargesheet.
For claims regarding damage to commercial establishments, the government asked for GST return or other supporting documents from the owners but many couldn’t provide any.
Some people even tried to take advantage by filing false claims and make moolah out of the whole episode but after assessment their claims were found to be fraud and rejected.
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