Haldwani, Uttarakhand: The serene town of Haldwani in Uttarakhand turned into a battleground as violent clashes erupted, claiming the lives of at least four individuals and leaving over a hundred injured, including numerous police personnel. The unrest unfolded during an anti-encroachment drive in the Banbhoolpura area on Thursday, marked by a series of chaotic events.
State ADG Law & Order AP Anshuman confirmed the casualties, stating, “Four people died in the violence-hit Banbhoolpura and more than 100 policemen were injured.”
The upheaval began when authorities initiated a demolition drive, targeting a mosque and a madrasa allegedly built on Nazool land in Banbhoolpura. The administration’s actions sparked outrage among locals, leading to a violent confrontation characterized by stone pelting, arson, and the besiegement of a police station. In response to the escalating situation, Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami issued shoot-on-sight orders.
Clarifying the administration’s stance, Nainital District Magistrate Vandana Singh emphasized that the demolition drive wasn’t selective but part of a broader effort to address encroachments and alleviate traffic congestion in Haldwani. Notices were served to all affected parties, allowing them an opportunity to present their case. However, with no legal right established over the properties in question, the demolition proceeded as planned.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand CM Dhami vowed stringent action against those responsible for instigating violence. A high-level meeting was convened to assess the situation, with clear directives issued to the police to quell any unrest. SSP Prahlad Narayan Meena reiterated that the use of force was necessary to ensure public safety, attributing the casualties to the mob’s aggressive behaviour towards law enforcement.
However, voices of dissent emerged amidst the chaos, with Congress MLA from Haldwani condemning the government’s haste in conducting the demolition. He questioned the need for such actions when legal proceedings were already underway, urging for peace and cooperation among the residents.
This incident adds to a concerning trend observed over the past decade, where the demolition of mosques and madrasas has become a contentious issue across the country, exacerbating communal tensions and highlighting broader societal challenges.
As investigations into the Haldwani violence continue, the focus remains on restoring calm and fostering dialogue to address the underlying grievances driving such confrontations in the region.