Haldwani unrest: State govt seeks more para forces

Over two dozen individuals were apprehended on Saturday in connection with the turmoil that unfolded in Haldwani‘s Banbhoolpura region during an anti-encroachment operation aimed at demolishing an “unauthorized” madrassa and a prayer site, as per a directive from the high court. Presently, five arrests have been made. Law enforcement is scrutinizing CCTV footage to identify those involved in acts of stone pelting, vandalism, and arson.

Security Reinforcement Requested

Chief Secretary Radha Raturi dispatched a missive on Saturday evening to the Union home secretary, urging the dispatch of four additional Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) companies to Haldwani “to uphold the law and order situation.”

ADG law and order, AP Anshuman, remarked, “Four CAPF companies and seven PAC companies were already deployed subsequent to the eruption of violence on Thursday evening, which resulted in six fatalities and numerous injuries.”

“The situation is gradually stabilizing, with curfew lifted in most areas barring Banbhoolpura and some adjacent localities. Law enforcement is fully in control, and an investigation is ongoing to identify the culprits,” added the ADG.

Legal Action Underway

Three cases, including charges of arson and rioting, have been lodged against 19 named individuals and approximately 5,000 others based on complaints from the municipal corporation and police. Those apprehended include Mahboob Alam, Zishan Parwez, Arshad Ahmad, Javed Siddiqui, and Aslam Chaudhary. Efforts are underway to apprehend Abdul Malik and his son, accused of constructing an illegal madrassa.

DGP Abhinav Kumar underscored that stringent action under the National Security Act (NSA) would be taken against the responsible parties. Furthermore, sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) have been incorporated into the FIR.

Debate Over Legal Measures

In response to the inclusion of UAPA, former high court bar association president, Avtar Singh, voiced criticism, stating, “While those involved may have flouted the law by engaging in arson and assaulting police, it does not amount to waging war against the nation. Their actions were spurred by religious sentiments.”

Government Appeals for Assistance

Amidst the ongoing unrest, the Uttarakhand government has requested additional paramilitary forces to ensure law and order in Nainital’s Banbhulpura. Following violence that ensued during an anti-encroachment drive, which claimed five lives, the area has been under curfew. In a communication to the Union Home Secretary, Chief Secretary Radha Raturi emphasized the need for additional forces due to continuous attempts by disruptive elements to disturb peace in the region.

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William Murphy

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