Bengaluru riots: Why recovering damages from accused won’t be easy | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: The state government plans to recover damages for the August 11 riots in east Bengaluru from the accused, but the process, which involves attaching and auctioning off their property, will be tricky. Identifying properties which can be legally taken over won’t be easy as most of the accused are not title owners of the places where they live or work. Only title owners’ assets can be seized and sold off.
Many suspects are poor and barely have any assets that can be used to recover the cost of damage caused to public and private property in DJ Halli and KG Halli localities. An MLA’s house and two police stations were attacked and over 130 vehicles were torched or wrecked. Scores of police personnel were injured in the violence.
“The main problem is that the majority of the accused we arrested are from poor families and have no property in their name. Some may own land, but it’s going to be difficult to prove their involvement in property destruction during the riots,” said a police officer who is a part of the investigations in the DJ Halli case.
On Wednesday, the government approached the Karnataka high court, seeking appointment of a claims commissioner who can oversee the process of fixing liability and awarding compensation. The high court is empowered to appoint such an official according to the Supreme Court’s guidelines, but it is the government’s responsibility to prove the case against the accused and identify properties for seizure and auction. The procedure must be conducted under the provisions of the Land Revenue Act and some other laws.
Apart from land, assets like share certificates and statutory bonds can be seized to compensate victims, but they should be in the accused’s name. Police have arrested about 350 people and plan to round up some more. Some officers said proving allegations against every suspect would be difficult. Some rioters seen in videos are yet to be arrested.
Masood Abdul Khadir, state convener of the Karnataka Muslim Muttahida Mahaz, a federation of Muslim organisations, said many of those held were innocent. “We have evidence to prove that over 200 people who have been arrested had nothing to do with the riots. They were onlookers. We are preparing a list and will submit it to the government and the claims commissioner,” Khadir said.
MLA Akhanda Srinivasamurthy, whose house was set on fire, alleged on Wednesday that his political rivals instigated the mob. “Some of my own people have backstabbed me. The real culprits must be punished. The innocent should not be harassed,” he said. Home minister Basavaraj Bommai expressed confidence in the probe and attachment process. “We have strong preliminary evidence to prove the involvement of many people, including activists of a fundamentalist outfit. While we will ensure the innocent are not punished, we will definitely get the rioters’ properties attached,” he said.
Siddaramaiah backs move
Leader of opposition and former chief minister Siddaramaiah welcomed the government’s step to recover damages from the accused, but said the rule should be applied with retrospective effect. All groups of accused in violent incidents should be covered irrespective of their community. He wrote to chief minister BS Yediyurappa on the issue.
“I urge the government to recover losses caused in communal and other violent incidents in the past 30 years,” he said. In separate comments, he repeated the criticism of the government and police. “DG Halli and KG Halli are sensitive areas that have faced problems in the past. The reason for the violence was also sensitive. Despite this, why did the police and government not act?” he said. Siddaramaiah alleged the government had posted honest and efficient cops in non-executive posts while promoting corrupt officers. He sought a probe by a sitting HC judge.

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Sagar Biswas

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