UTTARAKHAND: In the wake of the violent clashes that erupted just a day prior at Uttarakhand’s Haldwani, the district magistrate has confirmed the loss of two lives in the tragic incident.
The district administration has also ordered the suspension of internet services and closure of all schools and colleges.
Nainital District Magistrate Vandana Singh has expressed deep concern regarding the recent eruption of violence in Haldwani. Describing the incident as deeply regrettable, she has pledged to ensure that those responsible are promptly identified. She also assured that strict actions will be taken against the perpetrators.
Singh further stressed that the incident should not be construed as communal and also urged everyone to avoid politicizing or sensationalizing it along religious or sensitive lines.
Violence had erupted on Thursday over the demolition of an “illegally built” madrassa and an adjoining mosque, allegedly on Nazool land, in Banbhoolpura area.
The situation escalated quickly when people began hurling stones, setting vehicles ablaze, and encircling a police station.
As per the police, the rioting mob threw stones at the police officers, who managed to disperse them without resorting to excessive force. Additionally, the mob launched petrol bombs at the Banbhoolpura police station. Despite this, law enforcement managed to control the situation with minimal force. However, when the mob attempted to set fire to the police station, the police had to retaliate to protect the premises.
Police vehicles in large numbers were torched and there were also attempts by rioters to burn police personnel alive forcing them to run to the police station for cover, police stated.
The town is currently under control after enforcement of curfew and the approximately 1,100 police officers were deployed to maintain order.
A high alert was also sounded in Uttar Pradesh, while strict checking of vehicles was ordered. Authorities were also asked to monitor social media activities.
The District Magistrate also asserted that notices for the encroachment drive were given to everyone and some approached the High Court, adding that the drive was not an ‘islolated’ activity or meant to target any one community.
On Thursday, the Uttarakhand High Court conducted a hearing regarding a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) aimed at halting the demolition of a mosque and madrasa in Haldwani. The petition, filed by Safia Malik and other residents of Malik Colony, contested the notice issued by the Haldwani Municipal Corporation to the petitioners.
Unfortunately, the vacation bench presided over by Justice Pankaj Purohit did not grant any relief in this regard. Consequently, the demolition process commenced as scheduled. The court has scheduled another hearing for February 14 to further address the matter.