The stockpiling of arms, stones and petrol bombs suggested that the violence that erupted in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani was a “planned attack”, said Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Friday, reported PTI.
On Thursday, municipal authorities in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura locality demolished the Mariyam mosque and the Abdul Razzaq Zakariya madrasa that was built in 2002 on nazul land, which is government land meant for public utilities, Pankaj Upadhyay, Haldwani’s municipal commissioner, told Scroll.
This led to clashes between the locals and police officials. While the locals threw stones at the police and set vehicles on fire, the police hurled tear gas shells and baton-charged them to control the violence.
At least six persons were killed in the violence, Superintendent of Police (City) Harbans Singh told PTI. Seven people were undergoing treatment at three different hospitals on Friday. Three of them were said to be in a serious condition.
Some of the persons killed in the violence had gunshot wounds.
On Friday, Dhami said that every “rioter involved in arson and stone pelting should be identified and strictest action taken against them”.
He claimed that there had been an “attempt to kill” police and administration officials, reported The Indian Express.
“When police and administration teams went to remove the encroachment, they were attacked with petrol bombs, stones,” said the chief minister. “There was arson, an attempt to kill. Some people tried to create tension in Uttarakhand. Strict action will be taken as per the law.”
He added: “Video footage of the whole incident is being retrieved, and those who damaged government and public property will be made to pay for it. We are with the people who got injured.”
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand’s Director General of Police Abhinav Kumar said that those found to be involved in the attacks on police personnel will be booked under the stringent National Security Act, reported the news agency.
At least 1,100 police personnel have been deployed in the area to prevent any violence.
PN Meena, the senior superintendent of police in Nainital, said that a case has been registered against 19 named and 5,000 unidentified persons.
“Several people have been taken into custody and miscreants are being identified and searched for them,” Meena was quoted as saying by ANI.
A curfew has also been ordered in the area and mobile internet services have been suspended.
‘Due process not followed’
Nainital District Magistrate Vandana Singh said that the mosque and madrasa were demolished in accordance with a High Court order. She said that it was not an “isolated activity and was not targeted at any particular property”, ANI reported.
Dhami has also claimed that the anti-encroachment drive had been sanctioned by a court direction.
The corporation had given a notice for the demolition of the mosque and the madrasa to its caretaker Abdul Malik on January 30.
However, according to a copy of an order passed by Justice Pankaj Purohit, as seen by Scroll, the bench had listed for February 14 a matter seeking relief against the demolition of the religious structures, especially the madrasa.
The petition was filed by Safia Malik, Abdul Malik’s wife, on February 6. She had claimed that the land on which the mosque and madrasa were built was leased out in 1937 and sold to her family in 1994. A plea to renew the lease had been pending before the district administration since 2007, she added.
Upadhyay told Scroll that although the demolition was not backed by a court order, it would have not happened if Safia Malik had got a stay from the court. “They did not get a stay,” he said. “Our action was carried under legal procedures.”
However, Safia Malik’s counsel, Ahrar Baig said that the corporation had not followed the due process as they were not served a notice or given time to present a case.