Madrasas and mosques in India have become synonymous with the illegal occupation of government land. When the government attempts to reclaim its long-forgotten and abandoned property, the concerned community unleashes chaos, resorting to stone-pelting as a means of protest.
A similar incident unfolded in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, where municipal officials undertook the demolition of an illegally constructed mosque. The town in Uttarakhand witnessed violent clashes and six deaths on Thursday, during the demolition of the unauthorised madrasa and mosque in the Banbhoolpura locality. The incident has left over 60 people injured, triggering a curfew and shoot-on-sight orders. The situation escalated when locals clashed with municipal workers and police, leading to a police station being set on fire.
The Demolition Drive:
On February 8, the Haldwani Municipal Corporation carried out the demolition of the Mariyam mosque and the Abdul Razzaq Zakariya madrasa, structures that were erected in 2002 in Banbhoolpura’s Company Bagh locality. The move was part of an anti-encroachment drive targeting structures built on government land meant for public utilities.
Escalation of Violence:
The demolition resulted in a fierce clash between the locals and police officials, with videos circulating on social media showcasing the chaos, including arson and stone-pelting. The Haldwani Municipal Commissioner, Pankaj Upadhyay, clarified that the mosque and madrasa were constructed on nazul land, prompting the municipal corporation to issue a demolition notice on January 30.
Casualties and Injuries:
Tragically, the violence claimed six lives, with more than 60 individuals sustaining injuries during the clashes. Among the injured are seven people, including a journalist, who are undergoing treatment in three different hospitals. The severity of the injuries varies, with three individuals reported to be in critical condition.
Targeted Attacks and Unrest:
The unrest has taken a disturbing turn, with reports of targeted attacks on individuals based on their religious identity. Ajay, a poor scrap picker and the sole earner for his family, is battling for his life in the hospital after being shot in the violence. Disturbingly, the incident also involved the targeting of journalists, particularly those belonging to a specific religious community.
As Haldwani grapples with the aftermath of the violent clashes, questions arise about the underlying tensions and the need for effective resolution strategies. The incident highlights the delicate balance between enforcing the law and maintaining communal harmony, urging authorities to address grievances through dialogue and peaceful means.