9 Feb 2024

Unrest Erupts in Haldwani as Madrasa Removal Turns Violent; 3 Killed; Shoot-at-Sight Orders Issued

Three persons were killed and three critically injured in the violence that broke in Banbhulpura in Haldwani district of Uttarakhand during the removal of an illegally constructed madrasa and a place for offering namaz inside its premises, leading to a clash between the police and local residents on Thursday evening.

According to Nainital Police, the situation escalated when stone pelting ensued as municipal employees and policemen attempted to demolish the madrasa at a pre-designated site in Banbhulpura.

In an official statement, the police attributed the deteriorating law and order to stone pelting and arson by a particular community, resulting in damage to both public and government property.

CM issues shoot-at-sight order

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami responded swiftly, issuing shoot-at-sight orders for rioters. Dhami convened a meeting with officials on Friday morning to address the situation, emphasizing the need for a stringent approach.

The unrest in Banbhulpura resulted in at least 60 injuries, with two reported fatalities, as per Nainital DM Vandana Singh. A curfew has been imposed in Haldwani, and the Chief Minister's Office informed that curfew would continue until further notice.

Vandana Singh disclosed that the violent mob targeted numerous vehicles, predominantly two-wheelers, and inflicted injuries on journalists, policemen, and civil administration personnel.

In response to the incident, additional police forces, including four battalions of central security forces from nearby districts, were deployed to Haldwani on Thursday evening.

SSP Prahlad Meena clarified that the madrasa was constructed illegally on government land, and a demolition notice had been issued earlier.

Underlining the gravity of the situation, Chief Minister Dhami stated, "No one should be allowed to disrupt law and order in the state," as he received updates from the District Magistrate about the imposition of curfew and the issuance of shoot-at-sight orders in the troubled area of Banbhulpura.

As the violence escalated on Thursday, all the shops in Haldwani were closed. After the imposition of curfew, all schools from Classes 1-12 in and around the city have also been closed.

Nainital Senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena had said on Thursday that the madrasa stood on an illegally encroached government land and the demolitions were carried out in the heavy presence of police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel in compliance with a court order.

Angry residents, including women, in large numbers descended on the streets to protest the action as the demolition of the two structures began.

They were seen breaking barricades and arguing with the police personnel engaged in the demolition exercise.

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