At least four people were killed after violence hit Uttarakhand's Haldwani on Thursday. The authorities also imposed a curfew after residents set vehicles and a police station on fire and hurled stones, over the demolition of an "illegally built" madrasa and an adjoining mosque in Banbhoolpura.
According to news agency PTI, most of those hospitalised were police personnel. The remaining were municipal workers involved in the demolition of the local madrasa and the mosque in its complex.
HALDWANI VIOLENCE: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
Visuals on Friday morning showed heavy security in parts of Haldwani.
A high alert was issued in the entire state, the Uttarakhand government confirmed. Internet services were suspended following the violence, and the administration also ordered the closure of all schools and colleges in Nainital. As the violence escalated, all the shops in Haldwani were closed.
In a press conference, Vandana Singh, Nainital District Magistrate said the videos of the incident show the police force and the administration did not provoke or harm anybody. She also said the accused were being identified through CCTV. "The encroachment was being removed after a High Court order, and an attempt was made to burn people," she said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena told PTI the madrasa and the mosque stood on illegally encroached government land and the demolitions were carried out in the heavy presence of police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel in compliance with a court order.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami held a meeting in Dehradun, with senior officials, including Chief Secretary Radha Raturi and DGP Abhinav Kumar to review the situation in Haldwani. He urged everyone to maintain calm and asked officials to deal sternly with "anarchic elements".
Meanwhile, a hearing was held by the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday on a PIL seeking to stop the demolition of the mosque and madrasa in Haldwani. Filed by Malik colony resident Safia Malik and others, the petition challenged the notice given by the Haldwani Municipal Corporation to the petitioners.
However, no relief was granted in the matter by the vacation bench of Justice Pankaj Purohit, following which the demolition exercise began. The matter will now be heard on February 14.