Ahmed Raza, who organised the August 11 rally at Azad Maidan which later turned violent, will have to cough up a whopping Rs2.75 crore as fine for the damage to property during the riots. The decision sets a precedent in terms of the amount that has been charged for destroying public and private property. Raza was arrested on Monday in connection with the riots and has been booked under section 120(B) of the IPC for criminal conspiracy.
Sources in the Mumbai crime branch said Raza, who is general secretary of the Al Madinatul Elm, sent a letter to the city police on August 6, requesting permission for the rally. “He sought permission for 1,200 people, but more than 15,000 turned up for the rally. He should have informed the police about the expected increase in the turnout,” said a crime branch officer.
Raza took six meetings before the rally and requested people from his community to spread the word and join the protest against the atrocities against Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. “One meeting took place at a Mumbai Central hotel while some were held in Dongri, Kurla and Ghatkopar,” the officer told DNA.
“Since Raza applied for permission, his name figures in the documents and therefore, he will have to pay the fine. The recovery will be done by the collector’s office,” said another officer who is privy to the investigation. “Though Raza took permission for the rally, other religious groups like the Raza Academy and a political party also took part.”
OB vans of three channels, two police vans and five vehicles were set ablaze during the violence. Besides, the rioters pelted 24 BEST buses with stones. Fifteen police vehicles, eight private ones and a vehicle each of the fire brigade and BMC were damaged, the police said in their remand application filed on August 12. It is estimated that Rs2.75 crore worth damage was caused to the property. Of this, property worth Rs36,44,680 belonged to the government; the remaining was privately-owned.
The police recovered a 7.65mm pistol, four empties, stones, iron rods, cricket stumps, hockey sticks, plastic cans and bottles with inflammable products from the spot in August. “Nearly 3,000 people who were present at the maidan actively participated in the riots while 1,000 indulged in violence outside the maidan. Several flags and banners were found after the riots, but their wooden sticks were missing, indicating that the sticks were used to destroy property,” the officer said.