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5 dead in Haldwani; Net, bus & train facilities remain suspended

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DEHRADUN: Five persons were killed and nearly 15 injured, three of them critically, in the violence that broke out on Thursday evening in

Haldwani

even as

curfew

and shoot-at-sight orders in the town continued for the second day on Friday. The violence had erupted over an

anti-encroachment drive

in Haldwani’s Banphoolpura area to demolish what district officials said was an ‘unauthorised’ madrassa and a prayer site.

Nainital DM Vandana told media-persons that violence in Banphoolpura, which also saw several vehicles being set ablaze, was pre-planned.
Nainital district administration said on Friday that the deceased were identified as Prakash Kumar, Faeem Qureshi, Zahid, Mohammad Anas and Shabban.
4 held; Net, bus & train facilities remain suspended in Haldwani

Further details on how the five were killed and the time of their death were yet to be divulged. The injured are being treated in four hospitals in Haldwani.
The curfew-bound town remained peaceful on Friday even as internet services and bus and train facilities continued to remain suspended. Over 20 people were interrogated for the violence and four of them were arrested. Uttarakhand police spokesperson Nilesh Bharne said three cases have been registered so far and added that UAPA will be slapped against the rioters. DGP Abhinav Kumar, who visited Banphoolpura, said action would be taken under National Security Act (NSA) against those who indulged in vandalism and arson. “We are using CCTV footage to identify whether more people were involved,” Bharne said.

Nainital DM Vandana said, “It was put in action when teams from municipal corporation along with police reached Malik ka Bagicha for carrying out the demolition drive as per directions of the court. Within 30 minutes of initiating the drive, members of the municipal team came under attack. They were targeted first with stones from rooftops of nearby houses and then with petrol bombs. Later, the rioters burnt down Banphoolpura police station without any provocation.”
“The incident was not communal in nature and should not be referred to as one,” she said.
The DM confirmed footage from Jan 30 had shown “no stones on the rooftops”. “It indicates that the stones were collected in the past few days, and this also suggests that it was a

premeditated

attack,” she said.
Hours before the violence erupted on Thursday, Safia Malik had filed a petition in Uttarakhand HC seeking an order to stop the anti-encroachment demolition drive. However, HC scheduled the petition to be heard on Feb 14. Safia Malik had filed the petition on Feb 7. However, due to procedural reasons, HC asked for a fresh petition, which was submitted before the demolition drive began on Thursday.
Advocate general SN Babulkar, representing the state govt, said the land in question had been leased to the original beneficiary, Yasin Malik, on the condition that it be used solely for agricultural purposes. However, it had been allegedly sold to multiple people unlawfully and transferred several times without approval from the commissioner.
Safia Malik claimed that the land had been taken on lease from Yasin Malik’s family since 1937, and govt could not take it back. On the other hand, the municipal corporation, in its notice to the residents, said the madrassa was illegally built on govt land and directed the petitioners to dismantle the illegal structure on their own.
On Friday morning, as a preventive step, prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC were enforced in the neighbouring Ramnagar town. A “statewide alert” in Uttarakhand has been issued and sensitive areas are being monitored, officials said.
(With inputs from Pankul Sharma)

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