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21 held for vandalising railway property during anti-CAA stir will pay for damages: RPF

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways has identified 21 miscreants who have been arrested so far for being involved in vandalism and arson of its property during the anti-CAA protests in West Bengal, Assam and Bihar, a senior RPF official told PTI, stating that recoveries to the tune of Rs 87.99 crore will now be made from them.

Days after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed by Parliament, protests broke out in many parts of the country with violent clashes between the agitators and police leading to a number of people being detained and arrested.

Angry protestors burnt buses, laid siege on tracks and even burnt train coaches.

Officials said till now, the Government Railway Police (GRP) has registered 27 cases, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) 54 cases and the local police has filed one case in the matter.

“As of now 21 people have been arrested. Some have been arrested on the spot and some have been identified and traced through video footage,” a top official of RPF told PTI.

“The videos are still being scoured for more vandals and the number of those arrested is likely to increase. Most of those arrested are from Bengal. Notices will be sent by the commercial department to those arrested in order to make recoveries,” the official said.

Railway officials said the damage was maximum in the Eastern Zone followed by the South Eastern and North Frontier zones which cover mostly West Bengal, parts of Bihar and the Northeast.

Besides structural damage, scores of train services were cancelled, causing hardships to thousands of passengers.

While 18 stations including Ulubaeria, Sankrel, Baria, Chengel of the South Eastern zone were damaged, the Eastern Railways suffered maximum losses.

Stations like Sealdah, Beldanga, Lalgola, Krishna Nagar, Malda, Tildanga, Manigram, Lohapur, Deola, Mahipal Road, Sakopar were among the more than 20 stations and halts in West Bengal that bore the fury of the mob.

Railway property was vandalised in Assam too, where the Northeast Frontier Railway has also suffered losses for cancellation of trains.

Officials said those arrested will be sent notices first and if they fail to respond, the railways would file civil cases against them to ensure that recoveries are made.

Under the Indian Railway Act, those found guilty of damaging railway property could face charges under section 151, which has a provision of maximum seven years of imprisonment.

While officials could not recall if the railways has ever recovered damages for its vandalised property in the past from those accused, the Uttar Pradesh government has already sent out notices to some people it has identified through video footage and CCTV cameras for allegedly being involved in the anti-CAA protests and the ensuing violence in the state.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said the properties of those found involved will be confiscated and the damage done to public property recovered.