Two dead as anti-encroachment drive turns violent in Uttarakhand.

Tension arose when district officials tried to demolish an ‘unauthorized madrasa’ in Banbhoolpura area of Haldwani.

Two fatalities and more than 30 injuries occurred during intense confrontations between police and residents in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani, specifically in the Banbhoolpura area on February 8. The clashes erupted as district officials sought to dismantle an unauthorized madrasa. Agitators besieged the police station, attacked officials, set fire to vehicles, and damaged public property. Authorities responded by issuing shoot-on-sight orders and imposing a curfew in the town.

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According to a doctor at Sushila Tiwari Medical College, more than 20 policemen and 10 civilians arrived at the hospital in critical condition. An anonymous hospital staff member stated that one individual with a gunshot wound was brought in deceased. However, the police denied any fatalities at the time of the last update.

An urgent gathering convened by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami brought together police and administrative officials. Dhami asserted that those accountable for the unrest would face consequences and not be let off.

“Following the court’s directives, a team from the district administration conducted an anti-encroachment operation in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura area on Thursday. During this, some troublemakers engaged in a skirmish with the police, resulting in injuries to several officers and officials. Additional forces have been dispatched to the location, and I urge everyone to maintain calm,” stated Mr. Dhami.

Municipal Commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay informed the media that the encroachers had not only established an unauthorized madrasa but also a prayer area, both of which were illegal. He mentioned that substantial land was reclaimed during Thursday’s anti-encroachment effort.

The Education department has directed the closure of schools in the city for Friday.

Banbhoolpura is the same area where numerous Muslim families, residing along a two-kilometer stretch alongside the railway track, confront an uncertain future after receiving eviction notices from the Railways citing unauthorized construction on their land. Following weeks of protests against the eviction mandated by the Uttarakhand High Court, residents subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court, and the case is currently pending.

Residents in the vicinity disclosed that the madrasa owners had approached the Supreme Court to challenge the demolition, with the next hearing scheduled for February 14.

An eyewitness stated, “The police team proceeded with the demolition despite resistance from the residents, leading to the altercation.”

Uttarakhand Director-General of Police Abhinav Kumar mentioned that the state has requested additional forces from the Centre for Haldwani, noting that while the situation remains tense, it is currently under control.

Congress MLA from Haldwani, Sumit Hriyadesh, criticized the Uttarakhand Police for initiating the madrasa demolition without consulting local residents or community representatives.

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