Thiruvananthapuram: Till now what mattered were the damage suffered by KSRTC buses or government buildings. From now on, any damage to private property in the name of bandhs, hartals, demonstrations, road blockades, and communal violence will also be punished.
The state government is all set to promulgate the Kerala Prevention of Damage to Private Property and Payment of Compensation Ordinance 2019. “The objective of the ordinance is to consider damage to private property in the name of hartals and communal violence as seriously as the damage to public property,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Monday.
The ordinance, therefore, will be a near exact replica of the central legislation, the Prevention of Damage to Public Property (PDPP) Act, 1984. Private property will mean any property, whether movable or immovable, in the possession of or owned by private individuals or companies or institutions. Those found guilty will face a maximum jail term of five years. Those causing damages using explosives or fire can get a prison term of 10 years, or even life imprisonment.
“Besides firm action, we also felt the need to have an effective piece of legislation to tackle violence unleashed with the devious intention of creating communal trouble,” the chief minister said.
The state ordinance will differ from the central PDPP Act only in the bail conditions. Under the central Act, the accused will be granted bail only if an amount equal to the value of properties damaged is furnished. In the state ordinance, the accused can get bail if a sum equivalent to 50 percent of the value of the damaged properties is submitted as bank guarantee. Further, the bail will be granted only after hearing the prosecution side. The damage will be assessed by an official appointed by the state government.
The chief minister said that the Ordinance would also have provisions to extract compensation for damage from the very people who had instigated the violence. This will be done using the Revenue Recovery Act.
Pinarayi said that a series of violent incidents had been orchestrated by the Sangh Parivar recently to create communal polarisation in the state. “Sangh Parivar was behind nearly 92 per cent of the violence incidents that had taken place in the state recently,” the chief minister said.
Pinarayi said that the Sangh Parivar game plan was to purposefully destroy law and order in the state. “They are a disappointed lot now. They have done all that they can, destroyed property, attacked people's representatives and media personnel, and went on a rampage,” he said. And then, referring to the threat of President's rule, he added: “All of this was planned. They had something else in mind. But no one can say that law and order in the state has broken down. Kerala is intact.”
Pinarayi also used strong words to take on national BJP leaders, especially prime minister Narendra Modi who said that BJP worker4s were being hounded in the state. “Now they are telling us not to arrest those indulging in violence. They can give such orders to other states, not to Kerala,” Pinarayi said.