Five reportedly dead, three critical, nearly one hundred injured in Haldwani violence following demolition of Muslim religious places,
Indefinite curfew imposed
S.M.A. Kazmi / B.D.Kasniyal
Dehradun/Pithoragarh , Feb 9
A day after the much touted Uniform Civil Code (UCC) was passed by the Uttarakhand state assembly, violence in Banphoolpura area of Haldwani town of Nainital district claimed five lives on February 8. The violence broke out following demolition of a ‘Madarassa’ and a prayer hall by the district administration on Thursday evening. Indefinite curfew has been imposed in the entire town and internet services have been stopped. While, the local administration is claiming that two persons lost their lives in police firing following large scale violence, reports claims that atleast five persons had died, three critically injured and nearly hundred were injured in brick batting, tear gas shelling and firing. The injured included policemen, administrative officials, journalists and locals.
Uttarakhand Cheif Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the Haldwani hospital in the evening and met the policemen and journalists injured in the violence. He said that none of the culprit would be spared as the administration has drone and video footage and digital foot prints of the culprits and the entire incident. He further said that even attempt was made to burn a police personnel alive by the culprits.
Senior officials including Chief Secretary Radha Raturi and Director General of Police (DGP) Abhinav Kumar also visited the troubled town and assessed the situation, today. DGP Abhinav Kumar said that the situation is tense but under control. He further said that all the anti-social elements who indulged in violence, stone pelting and arson would be identified and brought to book. Nilesh Bharne, police spokesman in Dehradun said that around 20 persons have been detained while four arrested for their alleged involvement in the violence. He said that provisions of UAPA would invoked against the culprits. The police and para-military forces are conducting raids to nab the alleged rioters.
Vandana, District Magistrate, Nainital addressing media persons said that the attack on the police and Nagar Nigam anti-encroachment team was pre-planned. She alleged that the official teams were attacked with stones after the demolition was completed. She explained that the interested parties had been given time in the past and the demolition were carried out on “verbal” orders of the honourable high court. On the other hand, the Muslims who had been contesting the claims of the administration stated that February 14, 2024 is the next date of hearing in the Nianital High Court and administration acted in a haste and with vengeance targeting their community. Vandana said that stone were accumulated on the rooftops of the houses after January 30. “Drone surveillance on January 30, 2024 did not show any stones on the rooftops.
According to DM, the mob attacked the official team and police which were forced to take shelter in the police station which was also ghereoed and attacked by the mob. She said that as the situation become precarious then tear gas shelling and firing was ordered leading to killings.
Shakeel Salmani, former councillor of Banbhulpura area denied any communal rift on the issue between Hindus and Muslims.” The demolished mosque was there for the past three decades. Why it was not demolished earlier,” he said.
He alleged that the Municipal Commissioner of Haldwani Municipal Corporation in order to please his political bosses targetted the Muslim community.
Shakeel salmani said that there was no court order to demolish the structure with the administration. ” Was the demolished structure only encroached building on government land in Haldwani,” he asked.
Hasnain Khatibi of Haldwani said that there are several religious places owned by other communities which are built on ‘Nazool’ and forest land, but structures owned by Muslims are targeted and razed. “ Half of Haldwani town, Rudrapur town, Berinaga and Lohaghat are on ‘Nazool’ land. Can the Pushkar Singh Dhami led BJP government of Uttarakhand have the courage to take action against encroachment on ‘Nazool’ land in the entire state and go to court,” asked Hasnaian Khatibi.
Meanwhile, the entire Banphoolpura area of Haldwani has been sitting on powder keg but got relief from Supreme Court in January 5, 2023 against eviction and demolition orders of the railway authorities. In a significant order giving relief to more than 50,000 residents of Banphoolpura area of Haldwani town of Uttarakhand, the Supreme Court had stayed the order of the Nainital High Court regarding demolition of their houses built on railway land.
In the light of Nainital High court order, the railways had given eviction notices to the more than 4000 families to vacate their premises within a week in December 2022. The residents claimed that they had been in occupation of the land for the past more than sixty years and had Aadhar card, ration card, voters Identity cards, schools, community centres, water and electricity lines, two over head water tanks, temples and mosques and a sewerage line provided by the state government. More than 50,000 residents were to be affected by the eviction orders. The case is still pending in the Apex court.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami chaired a high level meeting in Dehradun to review the situation in Haldwani and ordered that each and every person involved in violence should be identified and brought to book.
A statement issued by several civil society groups in Uttarakhand have appealed for peace and appealed to the people to maintain harmony. The statement condemned the state government for its’ handling of the Haldwani issue. According to the information given by the administration, a total of 05 people had died in the incident last night. In which Faeem Qureshi, Zahid, Md. Anas, Shabban and Prakash Kumar have been identified as deceased. . Seven injured are undergoing treatment in Base Hospital, 03 in Krishna Hospital, 03 in Sushila Tiwari Hospital, and 01 in Brijlal Hospital.