Clashes break out after Haldwani madrassa demolition; admin orders shoot-at-sight

Violent clashes broke out between police and local residents in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani on Thursday, February 8, after the municipal authorities demolished a madrassa, calling it an encroachment on government land.

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According to reports, several police personnel, officials and journalists were injured and police vehicles were set afire during the clashes.

The clashes broke out shortly after Haldwani municipal officials conducted demolition of the madrassa located near Banbhulpura police station. In retaliation, the enraged local residents threw stones at officials and police, ensuing violent clashes.

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Municipal commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay, city magistrate Richa Singh, and SDM Paritosh Verma were present on the spot during the demolition.

Curfew imposed, additional forces deployed

Meanwhile, the Nanital district magistrate has imposed a curfew in Bhanbhulpura and issued a shoot-at-sight order, ANI reported.

Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami has also called a meeting of senior officials and additional forces were deployed in the area.

The Haldwani Municipal Corporation has been conducting an anti-encroachment drive in the area over the past few days. As part of this effort, the administration planned to demolish the madrassa and an underground mosque-like structure.

Locals tried to prevent demolition

Prior to the scheduled action, religious leaders and local councilors engaged in discussions with Municipal Commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay in a bid to prevent the demolition of the madrassa. Even as the local representatives tried to dissuade the authorities, tensions arose during these discussions as the officials refused to accept the demand.

 

 

According to officials, an investigation revealed that besides the madrassa a ‘namaz place‘ was being constructed ‘illegally’ on Nazul land in the area known as Malik Ka Bagicha in Banbhulpura. A notice was issued by the Municipal Corporation, instructing the madrassa authorities to vacate the site by February 1.

Local residents had expressed concerns about the demolition of madrasas, citing their significance in the social fabric of the community. They feared that such actions could disrupt the communal harmony.

This violence comes in the wake of a Supreme Court stay on the Uttarakhand High Court’s order to demolish over 4,000 homes on railway land, which had previously sparked protests from nearly 50,000 residents fearing displacement.

 

 

On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court had stayed a controversial order by Uttarakhand High Court to initiate demolition drive in the Muslim-majority suburb in Haldwani.

The HC order directed Railways and local authorities to demolish the encroachment on railway land in Ghafoor Basti, Banbhulpora area within a week. The HC had also authorised ‘used of force’ to evict nearly the residents.

(This is a developing story. Further details awaited)

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