The report also outlined Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Dhami’s propulsion of the destruction of 3,000 mazaars as an ‘accomplishment’ in the state, which resulted in the clashes

 

Four days after violence in Uttarkhand’s Haldwani over the demolition of Islamic seminary and a mosque, a total of six deaths were reported. However, a citizen fact-finding report stated that the actual death toll may be higher than official figures.

The report alleged that the incident was a result of the narrative built by Uttarkhand’s chief minister Pushkar Dhami and far-right extremist citizen groups to declare the northern state a Devbhoomi (holy land for Hindus), which would not tolerate any other religious groups.

The citizen fact-finding report was prepared in cooperation with the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), Karawan-e-Mohabbat, and civil rights activist Zahid Qadri.

Highlighting how communal hatred steadily aggravated in Uttarkhand over the last couple of years, the report said that “there have been calls for economic and social boycotts of Muslims and eviction of Muslim tenants from houses and shops and demands and threats for them to leave the state.”

Further, it also outlined Dhami’s propulsion of the destruction of 3,000 mazaars as an ‘accomplishment’ in the state, which resulted in the clashes. But he remained silent on “unauthorised Hindu religious structures in forests and Nazul lands (government land used for non-agricultural, public purposes),” the report said.

‘Not Muslims lands’

Recently, some disputes came to light regarding the legal possession of areas of urban land in Muslim-majority areas in Haldwani. The state government is suggesting that the lands on which Muslims claim to be legal lessees are government lands, the report said.

Moreover, the Supreme Court ordered a stay on the eviction that was put forward by the Indian Railways regarding settlements on railway land occupied by Muslim residents in Haldwani.

Bulldozers before verdict

Around six acres of land where a 20-year-old mosque and a madrassa were built were sealed by the local municipality on February 4. It was after a group of Ulemas met with the municipality officials to appeal against the eviction notices served on January 30 to vacate both the mosque and madrassa.

The police claimed that the land belonged to the government, while the official lessee of the disputed land, Sofiya Malik, approached the Uttarkhand High Court to express her grievances about these recent developments.

On February 8, a single judge bench heard the matter and called for the next hearing on February 14. Meanwhile, the local officers arrived at the spot with bulldozers, municipal workers, and significant police protection to carry out the demolition of the mosque and the madrassa. The local residents told the fact-finding team that the step was taken “despite the matter being sub-judice.”

Women were beaten

The fact-finding report said several women who stood before bulldozers in an attempt to prevent the demolitions were forcefully dragged and beaten by both male and female police officers, angering the local community.

Moreover, the community even requested the authorities hand over the Quran and other sacred properties to the Imam before demolition. However, the plea was also rejected.

Once the demolition began, local Muslims pelted stones, and the workers who were present on the spot were injured. But there is also evidence highlighting that police also resorted to attacking crowdwith stones, the report claimed.

The reports also mentioned that after the angry crowd set vehicles near the police station on fire, violence rapidly escalated, which resulted in police resorting to fire. However, it is still unclear when the firing started and when police were given formal shoot-at-sight orders.

Source: Siasat Daily