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4 dead, 250 injured in Uttarakhand violence; curfew imposed

Following the Thursday event, the city is under curfew, and orders to fire at sight have been issued for rioters.

Haldwani: On Thursday, an illegal madrasa and its neighboring mosque were demolished in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani, resulting in extensive rioting that left four people dead and 250 injured. There is a curfew in effect, shoot-at-sight orders against rioters, and a complete shutdown of internet services in the city.
The dispute escalated when a group of government representatives and police officers tried to demolish the buildings in compliance with a court ruling. The administration had proclaimed the madrasa and mosque to be illegal, which resulted in their demolition. However, the people who live in the Haldwani neighborhood of Vanbhulpura fiercely opposed this action.

More than fifty police officers were hurt in the altercation, and a number of administrative staff, city employees, and journalists were also injured. Stones were thrown at the officials by the sizable mob, who were referred to as “unruly elements,” and the police responded by using tear gas. As cars outside the police station caught fire, the fighting intensified.

The demolitions, which were conducted under intense police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) presence, were intended to remove government land that the madrasa and the mosque were purportedly encroaching upon. A court order was followed in carrying out the demolitions, senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena stated.

Some people, including women, were so incensed that they took to the streets in protest as the bulldozer leveled the buildings. The situation quickly got worse when they smashed through barricades and got into altercations with the police. After that, crowds threw stones at police officers, city employees, and media, inflicting injuries and destruction of property. A security bus and more than 20 motorcycles were set on fire.

“No one was provoked by the police. In spite of this, protesters attempted to burn police officers inside a police station, attacked them, and vandalized a police station, according to Nainital District Magistrate Vandana Singh.

In response to a court decision, a crew has been sent to the region to carry out the destruction, according to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. The Chief Minister emphasized that there had been conflicts between the police and “anti-social elements” in the neighborhood. To reestablish order, more police and central forces are being sent in. Mr. Dhami has urged people to keep the peace.

The madrasa and namaz location, according to Municipal Commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay, are illegal. He cited the fact that the Haldwani local government had earlier taken three acres of adjacent land and sealed the buildings. The Chief Minister addressed prohibitory orders and the need for a shoot-at-sight policy against rioters in a meeting with senior officials to manage the growing unrest.

A curfew has been implemented throughout Haldwani as a preventative measure, and businesses and educational institutions have shuttered in the impacted areas. As things continue to heat, the Chief Minister is advising authorities to deal harshly with “anarchic elements.” Many of the injured are receiving treatment in a hospital for injuries to their heads and faces.

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On Thursday, the Uttarakhand High Court heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) aimed at stopping the demolition. However, the destruction went ahead after the court declined to provide a reprieve. A follow-up hearing on the topic is set for February 14.

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