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Haldwani Violence: What, When, Why, And How 

Indian Masterminds Stories

After three days of fear, apprehension, and confinement, the dawn of Sunday brought some relief for the people of Haldwani as curfew was relaxed and the Internet was restored in some areas,  even as the police continued to patrol non-stop. However, curfew was not relaxed in the hotspot, Banbhoolpura, where it all started. 

The death toll in the aftermath of Thursday’s violence after the demolition of a madrasa and a ‘mosque-like structure’ has risen to six, and many of the injured are still in critical condition. But, what exactly happened on that fateful day in Haldwani that led to such violence in the otherwise peaceful area? 

During an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, the DM of of Nainital, under which Haldwani falls, Ms. Vandana Singh Chauhan gave an account of the demolition drive and its aftermath, insisting that the attacks were on the state machinery, and not on any particular community. 

NO DOCUMENTS 

The Municipal Corporation of Nainital had done a survey in which few properties were found to be illegal. The said madrasa and the ‘mosque-like structure’ were also found to be illegal constructions. Hence, the Corporation served a notice regarding this on 30 January, 2024, calling the construction illegal and setting the deadline of 4 February to show any document to prove this claim wrong. 

“In between those 3-4 days, many groups of people came to discuss the matter, but they could not show any document,” Ms. Chauhan said. 

NO STAY ORDER

Hence, the Municipal Corporation issued a demolition order for 4 February and, accordingly, all preparations were completed on 3 February. Police personnel along with a few officers from the corporation did a flag march and recee, too. On reaching the structure, the team saw many people sitting inside it. They requested them to come out and talk to them. On coming out, they showed the government team a pending disposal application. 

“Our team took it seriously and postponed the demolition. But, all the religious books were taken out, and the building was sealed and brought under the control of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC),” Ms. Chauhan said.

In the meantime, the other party too filed a case in the High Court of Uttarakhand, but even after two hearings, no interim stay order was issued. Hence, according to Ms. Chauhan, since the team already had an administration order for demolition, they carried it out and demolished the structures. The entire exercise took around 45 minutes, but during the drive, a group of people gathered and started pelting stones. However, the situation was soon brought under control.   

MOBS ATTACKED POLICE

The second attack occurred when the team was returning. A few groups of people came from different directions and started severe stone pelting and even threw petrol bombs. They burnt down the government vehicles too. The police managed to control this attack too. But, that same night, a mob surrounded the Banbhoolpura Police Station and tried to burn the whole place down. They even tried to kill some officers and the police had to fire in self-defence. It took around two hours to control the situation. 

When asked if any civilian was hurt in the attacks, Ms. Chauhan said, “Not intentionally. These attacks were on the state, and not on any particular community. Few civilians got hurt because they were caught in between.”

She also asserted that the investigation into the incident has already started to find out if anybody used the situation to further their agenda or to create confusion among communities. She expressed hope that everything will be back to normal in Haldwani soon. 


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