Uttarakhand town on edge as action on madrasa triggers clash, arson | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Uttarakhand town on edge as action on madrasa triggers clash, arson

By, Haldwani/dehradun
Feb 09, 2024 04:47 AM IST

The chief minister has instructed police to deal strictly with rioters, and a curfew has been imposed in the area. Schools in Haldwani will be closed on Friday.

The Uttarakhand government on Thursday issued a “shoot at sight” order and imposed curfew in Haldwani city as violence erupted in Banbhoolpura locality over the demolition of an “illegally built” madrasa, officials familiar with the matter said, adding the area has been fortified with heavy police and paramilitary deployment.

Violence erupted in Banbhoolpura locality over the demolition of an “illegally built” madrasa (HT)
Violence erupted in Banbhoolpura locality over the demolition of an “illegally built” madrasa (HT)

As a bulldozer razed the madrasa and an adjoining mosque-like structure, allegedly built illegally on “nazool land” (owned by state government), in the afternoon, local residents set several vehicles on fire and hurled stones at police personnel and a team of Nainital administration and local municipal workers involved in the demolition, causing injuries to at least 60 people, officials said.

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Also read: Shoot-at-sight ordered as razing of illegal madrasa sparks violence in Uttarakhand's Haldwani

They also set the Banbhoolpura police station alight, following which police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd, officials said, adding tension was palpable in the city.

Late on Thursday, Nainital district magistrate Vandana said three to four people died in the violence. “At the violence outside the Banbhoolpura police station, some people fired. In retaliation, the police also fired in the air. Three-four people were brought dead at hospitals with bullet injuries. Their identification is being done,” the DM added.

The incident occurred a day after the Uttarakhand assembly passed the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill, which seeks to replace religious personal laws that govern marriage, relationship and inheritance, becoming the first state in India to do so.

In the evening, chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami called an emergency review meeting with chief secretary Radha Raturi, director general of police (DGP) Abhinav Kumar and ADG (law and order) AP Anshuman.

“Police have been instructed to deal strictly with unruly elements and shoot rioters on sight,” the state government said in a statement quoting Dhami.

The CM has also appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony in the area, it added.

“The chief minister directed the officials to take strict action against the culprits and ensure peace and order are maintained in the area,” a senior police officer said, requesting anonymity. He gave clear instructions that no one should be allowed to play with law and order in the state.

“The situation is under control. We have video footage of the incident...rioters will be identified and strict action will be taken,” DGP Kumar said.

Meanwhile, curfew was imposed across Haldwani and the district administration also suspended the mobile internet services. “All roads leading to Banbhoolpura have been blocked and the administration has issued order for closure of schools in Haldwani on Friday,” one of the officials said.

Even as situation remained tensed, police said most of the around 60 people hospitalised after the violence were policemen and municipal workers.

Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Prahlad Meena said a notice was served earlier on the madrasa and the adjoining mosque constructed illegally on government land at Malik Ka Bagicha in Banbhoolpura. The madrasa was sealed last week.

“...A large number of local people gathered to resist the demolition team when it arrived, escorted by police personnel. Many vehicles were torched and stones were pelted on the team,” city magistrate Richa Singh said.

The demolition was carried out in the presence of municipal commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay, the city magistrate and SDM Paritosh Verma, who is also injured in the violence, officials said.

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