The Events That Led To 'Shoot-At-Sight' Order In Haldwani Explained By Uttarakhand Official

Uttarakhand communal clashes: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to halt the demolition was filed in the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday. The court, however, did not grant relief, paving the way for the demolition. The matter is scheduled for further hearing on February 14.
Haldwani communal clashes

The violence erupted in the city's Banbhoolpura area after the madrasa was demolished by the authorities.

New Delhi: At least four people died and 250 were injured as a mob of over 1,000 people clashed with police during a demolition drive in Uttarakhand's Haldwani on Thursday. The mob threw stones at officials, hurled petrol bombs at them and even fired at a police station, forcing the authorities to place the city under curfew, with 'shoot-at-sight' orders issued against rioters and clamp down internet services to control the situation. The state government has warned strict action against the vandals.
The mob violence was "planned" in advance, said District Magistrate Nainital Vandana Singh, giving details of the series of events that unfolded in Haldwani. Even as the mob rampaged vehicles and attacked officials for hours, they did not face excessive force from the authorities, she said.
Breaking down the events that led to the clashes, she said that the mob came in "three batches" during the attack, and attacked officials with stones and petrol bombs. Despite the escalation, the officials continued the "peaceful drive", she said.
"When we did not back down, the mob encircled the police station. At the time a magistrate and police officials were inside the station. The mob then set fire to vehicles present inside the compound. A warning was issued to the mob through loudspeaker to disburse and fired tear gas upon them. Later, some shots were fired at the police station from unruly elements present in the mob," she added.
The attack was "planned in advance", she said. "Stones were thrown at the officials from the roofs. We have evidence that they were collected and kept on terraces while a plea on the demolition drive was being heard by the Uttarakhand High Court," the official said.
The police force used maximum force only after the mob attacked the police station, she said.
"Fearing the situation would go out of hand, the magistrate gave order to impose Section 144 and shoot at sight order," she said.
Uttarakhand_Haldwani clashes
Uttarakhand_Haldwani clashes
The mob even tried to "terrorise" a peaceful town nearby but was contained by the police, she said. "The mob tried to terrorise the people in Gandhinagar. After the reinforcements arrived, we rushed to Gandhinagar and prevented any untoward incident from taking place," she said.
"Every effort was made to contain the mob. We did not let the mob enter Haldwani. They were contained to the affected areas," the official added.
The violence erupted in the city's Banbhoolpura area after the madrasa was demolished by the authorities.
On the demolition of the madrasa, the official said that structure has been built illegally. "The property is empty. It has two structures that have been built illegally. They do not have any religius significance," she added.
The accused will be identified and strict action will be taken, she said. "This (incident) was not communal. I request everybody to not make it communal or sensitive. Any particular community did not retaliate...This was an effort to challenge the state machinery, state government and the law and order situation...A briefing will be done again in the evening," the District Magistrate said.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to halt the demolition was filed in the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday. The court, however, did not grant relief, paving the way for the demolition. The matter is scheduled for further hearing on February 14.
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