At least two people were killed, and several others injured after violence hit Uttrakhand’s Haldwani on Thursday. Most of those hospitalised were police personnel. The remaining were municipal workers involved in the demolition of the local madrasa and the mosque in its complex. A high alert was issued in the entire state, the Uttarakhand government confirmed. Internet services were suspended following the violence, and the administration also ordered the closure of all schools and colleges in Nainital. As the violence escalated, all the shops in Haldwani were closed.
Officials said the clashes were planned. Earlier, authorities imposed a curfew after residents set vehicles and a police station on fire and hurled stones, over the demolition of an “illegally built” madrasa and an adjoining mosque in Banbhoolpura.
Nainital District Magistrate Vandana Singh said,
“Notices were served to everyone and everyone was given a chance to present their case. Some people even went to the High Court. Some people got more time (from the court) and some did not. Demolition drive was conducted in places where more time was not given. In that sequence, these two structures, which some people call a madrasa and namaz sthal, but there is no official record of the same in legal documents, were vacated and a notice was pasted, asking them to remove the encroachment in three days,” she said, adding that there was no stay on this property and no one had any legal right on the property.
Senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Narayan Meena said, “No unnecessary force was used by the police. There are injuries and deaths – the reason behind that is the mob trying to challenge the state, attacking the thana and the police. Force was used to ensure safety. There are two deaths, which we are trying to verify what caused it. We will send the bodies for postmortem. There are three seriously injured out of which one has a gunshot injury.” He added that at the moment, around 1,100 police personnel are present in Haldwani.
The DM said, “Initially we got information of four deaths. When we collected information from hospitals in Haldwani, we got information of two bodies from Krishna Hospital and two bodies from Sushila Tiwari Hospital, because of which the initial information of four bodies came. When we verified this, we found that Krishna Hospital did not entertain them (the victims) and sent them to STH. Those same deaths were counted in both hospitals. As per the official information, there are two deaths.”
The CM said no one was provoked but some anti-social elements gathered within half an hour and started pelting stones on the Nagar Nigam teams from the roofs. She claimed that when the legal process was going on, stones had been gathered, showing it was a planned attack to demoralise the state machinery.