On Thursday, February 8, 2024, the Municipal Corporation of Haldwani, a city in the state of Uttarakhand, demolished a madrasa and a namaz place that was built illegally on encroached land in the Malik Ka Bagicha area.
The demolition was carried out by a bulldozer and was accompanied by a large police force of more than 600 policemen.
The residents, mostly belonging to the Muslim community, were angered by the demolition and attacked the Municipal Corporation team and the police with stones and fire.
The violence escalated and the rioters surrounded the Banbhulpura police station and set it on fire. They also burnt many vehicles and a transformer, disrupting the power supply in the area.
The District DM (District Magistrate) Vandana Singh imposed a curfew in Banbhulpura and ordered the police to shoot the rioters on sight.
The State Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami reviewed the situation and appealed to the people to maintain peace. He also instructed the police to deal strictly with the unruly elements and called for extra forces from nearby districts.
What are the consequences?
The violence resulted in four deaths and 139 injuries, including more than 50 policemen, several journalists, and Municipal Corporation employees.
The madrasa and the namaz place were destroyed by the bulldozer. The Municipal Commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay said that they were illegal structures and the Municipal Corporation had freed 3 acres of land from encroachment and sealed them before demolishing them.
The Banbhulpura police station and many vehicles were damaged by the fire. The power supply in the area was cut off due to the burning of the transformer.
The curfew in Banbhulpura has restricted the movement of the people and affected their normal lives. The police are identifying the culprits who were involved in the violence and taking legal action against them.
What are the reactions?
The Muslim community of Haldwani has condemned the demolition of the madrasa and the namaz place and accused the Municipal Corporation and the police of communal bias and brutality. They have demanded justice and compensation for the loss of their religious places and property.
The Hindu community of Haldwani has supported the demolition of the illegal structures and praised the Municipal Corporation and the police for upholding the law and restoring order. They have urged the Muslim community to respect the law and refrain from violence.
The political parties of Uttarakhand have expressed their views on the incident and blamed each other for instigating or failing to prevent the violence. The ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has defended the demolition and the police action and accused the opposition parties, especially the Indian National Congress (INC), of provoking the riots for political gains. The opposition parties have criticized the BJP for targeting the minorities and mishandling the situation. They have demanded a high-level inquiry and action against the responsible officials.
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