More than 50 policemen were injured in a clash with a mob in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani when they went to raze a madrasa that the authorities declared illegal. Resisting the demolition, the mob at Vanbhulpura threw stones at them. All of them are undergoing treatment at a local hospital. Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued in the area and security has been strengthened.
Besides the police, a team of administration and civic officials had gone to the madrasa, which has an adjoining mosque. Sources said when the JCB machine started running, a crowd of “unruly elements’ took on the officials, throwing stones at them from a distance. Besides policemen, several administration officials and journalists were injured. As the police retaliated with tear gas, the violence intensified. Vehicles parked outside the police station were set on fire.
The District Magistrate informed the Chief Minister that prohibitory orders banning large gatherings has been imposed in the area and to maintain normalcy, orders have been given to shoot rioters at sight.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said the team had gone for the demolition of an illegal structure after a court order, when “anti-social elements there entered into a brawl with the police”. “Additional companies of Police and Central Forces are being sent there. We have appealed to everyone to maintain peace. Curfew is in place.Strict action will be taken against rioters and encroachers who committed arson,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Municipal Commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay said the madrassa and namaz site were completely illegal. The Municipal Corporation had earlier taken possession of three acres of land nearby and sealed the illegal madrassa and namaz place. These structures were demolished today.
The unruly elements who threw stones are being identified and will be arrested, he said.
The Chief Minister held a meeting with senior officials, including the Chief Secretary and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, sources said.