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At Least 6 Dead, Many Injured: How Mazar Demolition Led to Violence in Haldwani

Another hearing in this case is scheduled on 14 February, but the demolition took place 6 days prior to it.

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India
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Violence erupted in Uttarakhand's Haldwani on Thursday, 8 February after a local mazar and madrasa were demolished in an anti-encroachment drive, resulting in six confirmed deaths and hundreds of police officers injured. This came barely a few days after the BJP government in Uttarakhand passed the controversial Uniform Civil Code (UCC),

SP (City) Harbans Singh told PTI said that "six rioters were killed in total." Earlier on Friday, DM Nainital Vandana Singh had stated that two were killed while three were critical. Section 144 is also imposed in the area on Friday. Locals however say that not all killed were involved in rioting.

What We Know: The authorities demolished a mazar and Malik ke Bagiche ka madrasa in Banbhoolpura, a Muslim-majority area at 4 pm on Thursday following a court order, the authorities have stated. "The police station was surrounded by the mob and those inside the police station were not allowed to come out. They were first pelted with stones and then attacked by petrol bombs," DM Singh said.

She added that the vehicles outside the station "were set on fire and due to the smoke, there was suffocation due to the smoke. Tear gas and water cannons were used only to safeguard the police station."

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However, the DM also added:

"This (incident) was not communal. I request everybody to not make it communal or sensitive. Any particular community did not retaliate...This was an effort to challenge the state machinery, state govt and the law and order situation."

According to reports, the mazar and the madrasa allegedly stood on Nazul land in Banbhoolpura area.

The DM said that property where the two structures were situated is registered as Nagar Nigam’s Nazul land – type of government land not officially mentioned in revenue records.

Soon after the violence, around 1,100 police personnel were deployed there, police said.

Now, three FIRs have been registered against 16 persons and five people have been arrested, as per ADG Intelligence Anshuman, Uttarakhand police. The FIR has been filed under IPC sections 147, 148, 322, 333, 307 and 353, which includes charges of rioting, causing hurt and attempt to murder.

Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami had reportedly issued shoot at sight orders. Earlier on Friday, the CM, Chief Secretary Radha Raturi, DGP Abhinav Kumar and ADG Law & Order AP Anshuman reached Haldwani to take stock of the situation after the violence.

"Action under the NSA will be taken against unruly elements who attacked police personnel, and indulged in arson and vandalism at the police station in Banbhoolpura."
Uttarakhand DGP Abhinav Kumar to PTI

Police Cites Court Order, But There's A Catch

On Friday, Uttarakhand police wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that the police is currently "identifying the rioters and stone-pelters via CCTV footage" and added that "due to police's prompt action, the situation is under control."

For precautionary measures, many policemen have been deployed at every corner to keep vigilance. Reiterating the CM's words that "strict investigation would be carried out against those who have created the ruckus."

Another hearing in this case is scheduled on 14 February, but the demolition took place 6 days prior to it.

Nainital police posted on Friday, 9 February.

(Photo: X)

Meanwhile, Nilesh Anand Bharne, spokesperson, Uttarakhand police stated that the demolition drive was done on High Court's order to remove illegal structures.

"So for the protection of Nagar Nigam and state authorities, police force had been assigned. The mob had come suddenly, pelted stones at the cops and some cars were also burnt. The police reacted lightly and lathi-charged the crowd. We have sent our forces and called for Paramilitary forces too," said Bharne.

The CM had stated, as per ANI, "In Banbhoolpura area of Haldwani, a team from the administration had gone for an anti-encroachment drive, following Court’s order. Anti-social elements there entered into a brawl with the Police."

However, local residents are raising two questions:

  • They allege that no court order or notice was shown prior to the demolition.

  • The state's BJP government has not explained why the mazar and the Madrasa were demolished when the matter is sub judice in the Supreme Court.

The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday conducted a hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) aimed at halting the demolition of the tomb and madrasa.

Filed by Safia Malik and other residents of Malik colony, the petition contested the notice issued by the Haldwani Municipal Corporation to the petitioners.

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The vacation bench of Justice Pankaj Purohit did not grant any relief in the matter, leading to the commencement of the demolition exercise. The case has been scheduled for further hearing on 14 February.

Local councillor Shakeel Ahmad said that the High Court had not given a final decision on removing the encroachments, The Indian Express reported.

“The next date of hearing was 14 February and when the administration came, we requested them to stop until then,” he said. “We said that we will not stop the administration from demolishing the structure if the court decision is against us. But they did not listen.”

Since 30 January, the neighbourhood had reportedly been tense when civic authorities issued an order to demolish the structures.

The videos being shared on social media also show that the police allegedly lathi-charged Muslim women and men who were protesting against the demolition. In another video, a right-wing mob could be heard shouting 'Ka***' and pelting stones.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary of State Radha Raturi says, "We held a meeting and took stock of the situation here. The government will soon restore peace in the region, law of the land will be implemented. And soon, things will return to normalcy. I appeal to all citizens to not spread or pay heed to any kinds of rumours and help maintain peace."

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Topics:  Uttarakhand   mosque   Madarsa 

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