Haldwani violence: How an illegal madrasa sparked a deadly riot

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The demolition drive

On Thursday evening, a team of municipal corporation officials arrived at Banbhoolpura area of Haldwani, Uttarakhand, to demolish an illegal madrasa and an adjoining mosque that were built on government land. The officials had served a notice earlier on the structures, but the occupants did not vacate them. The demolition drive was part of a larger campaign to remove encroachments from various places in the city.

The mob attack

As the demolition began, a large mob of around 500 people gathered near the site and started pelting stones at the officials and the police personnel who accompanied them. The mob also set fire to several vehicles, including a police van, and attacked the Banbhoolpura police station with petrol bombs and firearms. The violence lasted for about two hours, leaving a trail of destruction and bloodshed.

The casualties and injuries

The riot claimed the lives of four people, including two municipal corporation employees, a police constable and a civilian. Over 250 people, including more than 100 police personnel, were injured in the clash. Some of the injured were in critical condition and were shifted to higher medical facilities. The district administration imposed curfew in the area and suspended internet services to prevent further escalation of violence.

Haldwani violence

The aftermath and investigation

The state government announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh each to the seriously injured. The chief minister also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident and assured strict action against the culprits. The police registered several cases under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the National Security Act and detained four people for their alleged involvement in the violence. The police also identified 12 other suspects and launched a manhunt to nab them.

The communal angle

The district magistrate of Nainital, Vandana Singh, clarified that the incident was not a case of communal violence and urged people not to make it a sensitive issue. She said that the demolition drive was carried out peacefully and legally, and the mob attacked the state machinery and symbols without any provocation. She said that the attackers had collected stones on rooftops before the attack and had planned the violence in advance. She also said that there was no particular community that retaliated to the violence and appealed to everyone to maintain peace and harmony.

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