Violence in Uttarakhand after demolition of madrasa, mosque; 2 dead, 250 injured

The incident, which unfolded on Thursday, has left the city under curfew, with shoot-at-sight orders issued.

Haldwani: In Haldwani, Uttarakhand, two people died, and 250 others were injured during widespread unrest over the demolition of a madrasa and an adjacent mosque on Thursday, NDTV reported.

The city is now under curfew, with shoot-at-sight orders and a complete shutdown of internet services.

The conflict intensified when government officials, accompanied by police, sought to dismantle the structures following a court order. The administration had declared the madrasa and mosque illegal, prompting their demolition. However, residents in the Vanbhulpura area fiercely resisted this action.

Initial reports indicated four casualties, but the district magistrate later revised the count to two. The clashes resulted in injuries to over 50 cops, along with administration officials, municipal workers, and journalists caught in the crossfire. Described as “unruly elements,” the group pelted officials with stones, leading the police to respond with tear gas. The violence escalated as vehicles outside the police station were set ablaze.

The demolitions, executed with substantial police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) presence, aimed to clear government land allegedly encroached upon by the madrasa and mosque. Senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena confirmed that the demolitions were carried out as per the court order.

Enraged residents, including women, took to the streets in protest as the bulldozer razed the structures. Breaking barricades and clashing with the police, the situation rapidly deteriorated. Mobs hurled stones at law enforcement, municipal workers, and journalists, resulting in injuries and property damage. Over 20 motorcycles and a security bus were set on fire.

Nainital District Magistrate Vandana Singh stated that the police did not provoke the violence and highlighted the attack on a police station, where rioters attempted to burn personnel inside.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami revealed that a team had been dispatched for the demolition following a court order. He emphasised clashes with “anti-social elements” and announced additional police and central forces to restore order. The Chief Minister appealed to the public to maintain peace.

Municipal Commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay asserted the illegality of the madrasa and prayer site, citing previous actions by the Haldwani civic body to seize nearby land and seal the structures.

In response to the escalating unrest, a curfew has been imposed, and shops and schools closed. The Chief Minister advocated for a firm response to “anarchic elements.” Injured individuals are receiving treatment in hospitals, with many suffering head and face injuries.

Despite a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Uttarakhand High Court seeking to halt the demolition, the court did not grant relief, and the demolition continued. The matter is scheduled for further hearing on February 14.

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