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Mohd Irshad Alam
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"They have branded my 12-year-old child, studying in class 8, as a rioter and have asked him to pay Rs 2.9 lakh as recovery for damages. We are afraid what will happen to us. How will we pay the dues?"Kaman Khan
34-year-old Kaman Khan* (name changed to protect identity) sat down on the floor in his house in Madhya Pradesh's far-flung district Khargone as he continued shifting gazes from a notice he had received to his 12-year-old son whom the notice was addressed.
The notice was sent to his son by a claims tribunal set up under the new law named Madhya Pradesh Prevention and Recovery of Damages to Public Property Act to settle civil claims of damages during the riots.
Timeline of Events, Complaint and Notices in Khargone
On the occasion of Ram Navami, on 10 April, a man was killed and 50 others were injured in the communal clash in Khargone, which erupted after a few people allegedly threw stones at a Ram Navami procession.
Over 55 "illegal structures" were demolished by the district administration while taking action against the alleged stone-pelters and the accused.
In July 2022 Kaman Khan's neighbours claimed Rs 4.8 lakh from him and Rs 2.9 lakh from his 12-year old son accusing them of damaging and robbing their properties during the riots.
Within a month the tribunal decided that both Kaman Khan and his 12-year-old child was responsible for damaging the property of his neighbours and sent Kaman and his son a notice to pay Rs 4.8 lakh and Rs 2.9 lakh respectively for the alleged damages caused by him.
Talking to The Quint, Kaman Khan said:
"When the clashes broke out during Ram Navami, I was at home. I slept with my family at night. My neighbours also know this. I am
The child who came to know about the notices after hearing his worried parents talk about it said that he is unsure of what it means but he knows that he has been asked to pay 2.9 lakh rupees in connection with the riots.
"They are demanding recovery from us. I am to pay Rs 2.9 lakh and my father has to pay Rs 4.8 lakh. My father is a labourer. How will we pay the money?"The Child
Tribunal's Functioning Arbitrary and Ambiguous: Lawyer
After the family received the notices of 'recovery for damages,' they sought legal relief and filed a petition in the high court's Indore bench where the bench directed them to take up their objections with the tribunal itself.
Ashhar Warsi, the advocate from the Kaman Khan's side on the issue while talking to The Quint claimed that the tribunal is working arbitrarily and without applying the essentials of the law.
"The claims tribunal formed after the Khargone clashes sent a recovery notice to the 12-year-old child asking him to pay 2.9 lakh. His parents approached me after which we filed a petition in the Indore high court. The honourable court directed us to put our objections in front of the claims tribunal."Ashhar Warsi
The claims tribunal, however, rejected their objections citing this as a 'civil recovery.'
"This is a major ambiguity in the law where the Claims Tribunal is following criminal procedure and civil procedure as well. There are no proceeds of crime, still the claims are being filed and awarded. It is a very questionable thing."Ashhar Warsi
343 complaints were registered at the claims tribunal after the Ram Navami clashes in Khargone, of which 34 claims were accepted by the tribunal.
So far it has settled six claims – four by Hindus and two by Muslims. Over Rs 7 lakh have been recovered from 50 people.
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