‘Remove outsiders’: Muslim shopkeepers forced to down shutters in Uttarakhand

Markets in Dharchula observing restrictions. [File Photo]

Dharchula: A local traders’ association in Dharchula Uttarakhand has forced Muslim shopkeepers to down shutters after two minor girls went missing in the area, PTI reported.

The Dharchula Vyapar Sangh has revoked the memberships of 91 traders, mainly Muslims, and prevented them from opening their shops for the past three days.

The association has also urged landlords to remove these “outsiders” from the town. However, the administration, located about 90 km from Pithoragarh, has not supported this call by the trader organisation.

The two traders from Bareilly, accused of luring the minor girls, were arrested in February and charged under various sections of the IPC and the POCSO Act, according to Dharchula SHO Parvez Ali, PTI reported.

Pithoragarh District Magistrate Reena Joshi stated that action would be taken against those who forced the closure of shops. She assured full protection to traders from outside doing business in the town.

Dharchula SDM Manjit Singh mentioned that despite the closure of shops by traders from outside Dharchula, they have not left the area. The district administration is providing security to the traders whose memberships were revoked.

The Vyapar Sangh, representing over 600 traders, has decided to only grant membership to traders from within the state, citing concerns about criminal activities associated with outsiders in the sensitive border town.

Although the girls were rescued and the accused arrested promptly, tension remains high against traders from outside operating in the town.

A similar incident occurred in Purola, Uttarkashi district, leading to the imposition of section 144 of the CrPC last year due to tensions arising from an attempted abduction of a minor Hindu girl by two men, one of whom was Muslim.

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