Tragic incidents have occurred in a northern Indian state, resulting in the loss of multiple lives. The violence erupted following the demolition of a mosque, which authorities claimed was built without proper authorization.
Incidents of violence occurred in Haldwani town in Uttarakhand, reportedly during an operation aimed at addressing encroachment issues, according to the police.
Officials have initiated a campaign to address the issue of unauthorised structures, which includes a mosque and an adjacent religious school.
However, individuals who prayed at the mosque express their belief that they have been treated unjustly.
Several individuals on both sides sustained injuries during the confrontations that occurred on Thursday evening.
Footage captured the intense clashes between protesters and law enforcement, with vehicles engulfed in flames and projectiles being hurled. In response, tear gas was deployed by the police.
Authorities have implemented a curfew and have taken strict measures to restore order.
The incident occurred in the Banbhoolpura area of Haldwani. Last year, the district experienced significant protests following eviction notices served to over 50,000 individuals, primarily Muslims, who were accused of illegally residing on land owned by the Indian Railways. The demolitions were halted by India’s highest court.
Authorities have taken the latest action in response to a high court order, which required them to remove illegal settlements from the area.
The district magistrate, Vandana Singh, explained that the mosque and madrassa were taken down due to their illegal construction on government land and their lack of registration as religious structures.
“The drive was not focused on any specific group.” According to Ms Singh, the situation started off calmly, but unfortunately, it escalated into violence when a mob attacked officials. She mentioned that the authorities had informed the mosque’s administration in advance about the demolition.
Locals have strongly refuted this claim, asserting that the mosque was demolished prior to the court’s final decision in the case.
“When the administration arrived to demolish the structures, we politely requested them to halt their actions until the upcoming court hearing.” However, their words fell on deaf ears. “If they had waited for the final decision of the court, there would have been no resistance [from us],” Shakeel Ahmad, a local councillor, stated to the Indian Express newspaper.
There has been a noticeable increase in tensions surrounding the demolitions of mosques in recent months.
Some Muslim groups express concerns about being unfairly singled out by the current Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They claim that there is a growing religious divide being fostered in the lead up to the upcoming general elections, which are just two months away. The government refutes the accusation.
Friday saw a continued state of tension in Haldwani, with authorities taking measures to restrict internet services and enforce a complete shutdown.
Due to recent developments, schools in Banbhoolpura will be closed for the next few days. To ensure the safety and security of the area, a significant number of police personnel have been deployed for monitoring purposes.
Recent events have seen a surge in violence, occurring shortly after the implementation of a new common law in Uttarakhand. This law, known as the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), aims to provide equal rights and protections to all residents, irrespective of their religion, sex, gender, or sexual orientation.
Various religious groups in India follow their own distinct set of laws that regulate matters such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance.
Muslims in Uttarakhand have expressed their opposition to the UCC, stating that it infringes upon their Islamic practices.