Haldwani Violence: 2 Dead, 250 Injured Madrasa Demolition Sparks Unrest, Curfew Enforcement

Schools have also been closed due to the violence.

In Haldwani, Uttarakhand, four fatalities and 250 injuries occurred during widespread violence following the demolition of an illegal madrasa and an adjacent mosque on Thursday. The city is now under curfew, with shoot-on-sight orders issued against rioters and complete shutdown of internet services.

The confrontation intensified when government officials, accompanied by police, attempted to dismantle the structures following a court order. Despite being declared illegal by the administration, the demolition faced fierce opposition from residents in the Vanbhulpura area of Haldwani.

The clash resulted in injuries to over 50 policemen, as well as several administration officials, municipal workers, and journalists caught in the crossfire. Described as “unruly elements,” the large group hurled stones at officials, leading to police retaliation with tear gas. Violence escalated as vehicles outside the police station were set ablaze.

The demolitions, conducted with heavy police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) presence, aimed to reclaim government land allegedly encroached upon by the madrasa and mosque, in compliance with a court order, according to senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena.

As the structures were razed by bulldozers, enraged residents, including women, protested on the streets. Breaking barricades, they clashed with the police, leading to further escalation. Mobs then targeted police, municipal workers, and journalists, resulting in injuries and property damage, including the burning of more than 20 motorcycles and a security bus.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami dispatched a team to carry out the demolition following the court order, emphasizing clashes with the police by “anti-social elements” in the area. Additional police and central forces are being deployed to restore order, with the Chief Minister appealing for peace.

Municipal Commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay reiterated the illegality of the madrasa and prayer site, citing previous action by the Haldwani civic body to seize nearby land and seal the structures. In a meeting with senior officials, the Chief Minister discussed imposing prohibitory orders and the necessity for a shoot-on-sight policy against rioters to curb escalating unrest.

As a precautionary measure, a curfew has been imposed across Haldwani, with shops and schools closed in affected areas. The situation remains tense, with the Chief Minister urging officials to handle “anarchic elements” firmly. Injured individuals are receiving treatment in hospitals, with many sustaining head and facial injuries.

Although the Uttarakhand High Court heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to halt the demolition on Thursday, it did not grant relief, and the demolition continued. The matter is scheduled for further hearing on February 14th.