Arrests made in Haldwani riot case following Madrassa demolition

Senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena confirmed that 25 additional individuals had been detained and assured that key accused Abdul Malik would soon be apprehended.

| Updated: 12 February, 2024 1:44 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Police in Uttarakhand have made further arrests in connection with the February 8th riots that erupted after the demolition of an illegal madrassa in Haldwani, bringing the total number of arrests to 30. Senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena confirmed that 25 additional individuals had been detained and assured that key accused Abdul Malik would soon be apprehended.

The violence erupted last Thursday following the demolition of the unauthorised madrassa in the Banbhoolpura area, with locals pelting stones and petrol bombs at municipal workers and law enforcement. The chaos resulted in the death of six rioters and left over a hundred injured, including police officers and journalists.

Curfew remains in place in Banbhoolpura, with shops closed and streets deserted. Internet services in the area remain suspended to prevent the spread of misinformation through social media.

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To maintain law and order, nearly 1,100 security personnel are deployed in the town, and the state government has requested four companies of central paramilitary forces from the Home Ministry.

Meanwhile, a delegation from the Uttarakhand Congress met Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, demanding an impartial probe into the violence. Dhami assured them of swift action and stated that a magisterial probe was underway.

“Action is continuously being taken against the rioters and unruly elements involved in the Haldwani violence. All rioters are being arrested one after another. The drive against illegal encroachments in the state will not stop,” the chief minister said in a post on X.

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Addressing the media, SSP Meena disclosed that most of the recent arrests were made within Nainital district in the past 24 hours. Seven pistols and 54 live cartridges allegedly looted from the Banbhoolpura police station were recovered from the detainees.

A delegation from Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind visited Haldwani, condemning the police action. Maulana Arshad Madani criticised the arrests, alleging brutality and harassment of both men and women. He demanded an end to the arrests and called for a fair investigation into the incident.

Madani highlighted the discrimination in police actions based on religion, stating that while Muslims were targeted, others were treated differently. He emphasised the need for fairness and urged for immediate attention from authorities.

“Discrimination based on religion among (different groups of) protesters is deplorable,” he said.

Separately, Maulana Mahmood Madani wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressing concern over the situation in Haldwani and advocating for a more considered approach to demolitions, particularly those involving religious sites.

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