Residents wary of RAF movement in communally sensitive Haldwani
A battalion of the Rapid Action Force (RAF), a specialised wing of the Central Reserve Police Force that deals with riot and crowd control situations, has been stationed in Haldwani for the past seven days to acclimatise itself with the surroundings, officials said.
The movement of the battalion comes after Haldwani town has been attached with the Meerut zone of the RAF.
On Thursday, the RAF personnel took out a flag march in Banbhoolpura area, a Muslim dominated locality, as “a confidence building measure”, according to the RAF officials.
Talking to HT, RAF battalion commander Shailendra Kumar said that a team of 60 RAF personnel will conduct a flag march in all police station areas of Haldwani with focus on communally sensitive areas.
“The RAF will draw a list of anti-social elements, rumour mongers, suspects, criminal elements and potential mischief mongers and also map topography of the region including lanes, exit routes and roads so that we can move into the area at the time of emergency with prior information,” he added.
However, the residents of Banbhoolpura were surprised to see the movement of men and women in uniform in their area. “The people were scared due to the RAF personnel moving in the area, as if some riot or emergency had taken place,” said Shakil Ahmed, a resident of Banbhoolpura. He, however, expressed hope there would be no untoward incident in the area in future that would require such an exercise.
The Banbhoolpura area is a communally sensitive area, as many small clashes have taken place in the area in the past. Two years ago, a fight over a shop between a Muslim politician and a Hindu shopkeeper had led to a tiff between Shiv Sena and Muslim shopkeepers, which had spoilt the communal harmony. Though, the situation was later brought under controlled. The issue of eviction of squatters from the Gafoor Basti, which has been built on the railways’ land is also a big issue. The RAF personnel also conducted a flag march inside the lanes of this locality.