Haldwani becomes battlefield following madrasa and mosque demolition

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In a tragic turn of events, Haldwani, a city in Uttarakhand, India, has been engulfed in violence following the demolition of an illegal madrasa and adjoining mosque, leading to four deaths and injuries to 250 individuals. The incident unfolded on Thursday, setting off a wave of unrest that prompted local authorities to enforce a curfew, issue shoot-at-sight orders against rioters, and shut down internet services to prevent further escalation.

The confrontation escalated when government officials, backed by a substantial police force, attempted to demolish the structures based on a court order declaring them illegal. The action was fiercely opposed by residents in the Vanbhulpura area, leading to clashes that resulted in significant injuries to over 50 policemen, as well as administration officials, municipal workers, and journalists caught in the violence. The mob, described as unruly elements, engaged in stone-pelting, prompting police retaliation with tear gas and worsening the law and order situation.

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Senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena stated that the demolitions were in compliance with a court order, aiming to reclaim government land encroached upon by the madrasa and mosque. The situation quickly deteriorated as enraged protesters, including women, broke barricades and clashed with the police, resulting in property damage and injuries.

Curfew and Internet Shutdown in Haldwani Amidst Unrest Over Illegal Structure Demolition

Curfew and Internet Shutdown in Haldwani Amidst Unrest Over Illegal Structure Demolition

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami emphasized that the demolition was carried out following a court order and condemned the actions of “anti-social elements” for escalating the violence. Efforts to restore order are underway, with additional police and central forces being deployed. The Chief Minister has appealed for peace and has discussed the imposition of prohibitory orders and the necessity of a shoot-at-sight policy to control the unrest.

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A curfew has been implemented across Haldwani, leading to the closure of all commercial establishments and educational institutions in the affected areas. The injured are receiving treatment at Soban Singh Jeena Hospital, with most suffering from head and face injuries.

The Uttarakhand High Court’s refusal to halt the demolition during a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) hearing has added to the tension, with further hearings scheduled for February 14. This incident underscores the complex interplay between legal enforcement, urban planning, and community relations, highlighting the challenges faced by authorities in managing urban encroachments while maintaining public order and safety.

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The Haldwani incident reflects the broader issues of illegal construction and the sensitivities involved in demolishing religious structures. It underscores the importance of dialogue and legal processes in resolving such disputes. As the situation evolves, the focus must be on healing the community, ensuring justice, and preventing such occurrences in the future through proactive governance and community engagement.

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