A significant outbreak of communal violence occurred in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, resulting in at least four fatalities and around 250 injuries. The violence erupted following the demolition of an illegal madrasa and an adjacent mosque on Thursday. The city is now under curfew, with authorities issuing shoot-on-sight orders against rioters. Internet services have been completely suspended to prevent the spread of hate messages. The clash escalated dramatically when a team of government officials, accompanied by a large police force, attempted to demolish the ‘illegal’ mosque in compliance with a court order.
According to officials, the madrasa and mosque were constructed illegally, prompting their demolition. However, this action incited a mob in the Vanbhulpura area, resulting in widespread violence. Approximately 50 police officers were injured during the unrest. The agitated mob, described as “unruly elements,” attacked officials with stones, leading to police retaliation with baton charges and tear gas.
The rioters also set several vehicles parked outside the police station on fire, exacerbating the law and order crisis. The demolitions aimed to clear government land allegedly encroached upon by the madrasa and mosque. Senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena stated that the demolitions were carried out in accordance with a court order.
As bulldozers demolished the structures, enraged residents took to the streets in protest, breaking barricades and engaging in heated confrontations with law enforcement. Angry mobs also targeted law enforcement, municipal workers, and journalists with stones, causing injuries and damage to public property.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami asserted that the demolitions were executed following a court order. He mentioned that “anti-social elements” clashed with officials and police dispatched for the demolition, leading to the current unrest. The Chief Minister announced the deployment of additional police and central forces to restore law and order, urging people to maintain peace.