Violent confrontations took place at Haldwani, Uttarakhand, on February 8 following the falling down of a madrasa and a mosque as part of a district anti-encroachment operation in pursuance of an order of the local court, leaving five people dead and fourteen badly injured. When a group of police and district administrators arrived at a location known as “Malik Ka Bagicha” to demolish a structure that locals claim was a madrasa where Muslim children studied and an adjacent mosque where the community offered namaz, or Muslim prayers, violence broke out in the heavily populated Banbhoolpura neighbourhood. However, Vandana Singh stated that the demolished building was not recognised or registered as a religious building.
According to the District Magistrate, a big group of locals, including men, women, and kids, gathered at the location to challenge the administration’s anti-encroachment squad. After the police dispersed the gathering, the destruction was completed. But as the demolition was halfway finished and the crowd began throwing stones at the cops, the altercation escalated. According to officials, the crowd entered the police station this time and began setting fire to both cars and public property.
“Police did not incite anyone, but the crowd has severely damaged our police station…This occurrence is regrettable. Vandana Singh declared, “The accused will be identified and severe action will be taken,” asserting that the prearranged violence was a component of a plot to subvert the State apparatus and government and disturb the peace and order situation. She further asserted that anti-social individuals had thrown petrol bombs at police officers and attempted to burn them alive.
The DM went on to say that during a larger demolition drive, other buildings, including the one used by the Muslim community, were destroyed. “Across the district, the civic organisation is holding anti-encroachment drives. The purpose of this is to widen highways. In each instance, the administration has given notice to individuals holding Government land illegally far in advance of the period of the notice. While many have not, some have approached the High Court in an attempt to obtain remedy. It was one of the latter types of structures that was demolished on February 8. Thus, this did not constitute a singular act nor was it directed towards a specific resource; the speaker stated.
What measures has the Dhami Government taken to curb the nuisance by a particular community?
At least sixty people were injured when a bulldozer destroyed the madrasa and a nearby mosque-like building that were allegedly constructed illegally on “nazool land” (owned by the state government) in the afternoon. The residents of the area also set several cars on fire and threw stones at police officers, a team from the Nainital administration, and local municipal workers who were involved in the demolition.
Officials stated that there was a noticeable level of tension in the city after they also set fire to the Banbhoolpura police station. As a result, police used lathi charges to scatter the crowd.
ADG (law and order) AP Anshuman, Director General of police (DGP) Abhinav Kumar, and Chief Secretary Radha Raturi convened an emergency review meeting under the direction of Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
“Police have been instructed to deal strictly with unruly elements and shoot rioters on sight,” Pushkar Singh Dhami was quoted by the State Government in a statement. It further stated that the CM had urged residents to preserve harmony and tranquillity in the community.
A top police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, stated, “The Chief Minister directed the officials to take strict action against the culprits and ensure peace and order are maintained in the area.” He made it quite apparent that nobody should be able to interfere with the State’s law and order.
The district administration banned mobile internet connections and enforced a curfew throughout Haldwani. “On Friday, the administration ordered the closure of schools in Haldwani and blocked all roads leading to Banbhoolpura.”
Are the measures taken by Dhami commendable?
The measures taken by the district administration under the direct guidance of CM Pushkar Singh Dhami demonstrate a strong leadership that is not afraid of governing the States within the ambits of the rule of law, by razing the illegal structure built on state-owned land, the leadership of Pushkar Singh Dhami has sent a message that no illegal encroachments would be tolerated, be it by anybody. Furthermore, the Lathi Charge, blocking of the roads to Banbhoolpura, curfew orders, along with shoot at sight orders is a package of everything that any strong leadership can adopt to immediately stall violence and restore law and order and the same has been done by CM Pushkar Singh Dhami. All in all, what one witnesses in the current situation is a strong leadership led by a strong leader who is committed to upholding the rule of law and has zero tolerance for illegal encroachments; what we also witness is a modern-day Chanakya who is well aware as to how such violent protests by certain uncivilised people are to be curbed in order to restore law and order in the State.
The recent clash in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, triggered by the demolition of an alleged illegal structure, highlights a complex situation involving issues of encroachment, religious sentiments, and law enforcement. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami’s Government has responded decisively, with measures aimed at restoring law and order. The strong leadership demonstrated by Dhami, including the demolition of illegal structures, imposition of a curfew, shoot-at-sight orders, and a ban on mobile internet connections, reflects a commitment to upholding the rule of law and maintaining peace in the State.
While the incident has raised concerns about communal tensions, the government’s actions seem geared towards sending a clear message that illegal encroachments will not be tolerated, irrespective of the community involved. The imposition of strict measures and a focus on preserving harmony in the community indicate an effort to curb violence and ensure the safety and security of the residents. As the situation unfolds, it remains crucial for authorities to address underlying concerns, engage with the community, and work towards long-term solutions that promote coexistence and adherence to legal norms.