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'They tried to burn us alive...' Lady cop narrates Haldwani communal clash horror

Violence erupted in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, following the demolition of an alleged illegal madrasa and mosque. A woman police officer recounted a terrifying ordeal where attackers attempted to set fire to the house where she and some others had sought refuge

They tried to burn us alive Lady cop narrates Haldwani communal clash horror
First Published Feb 9, 2024, 9:08 AM IST

"They tried to burn us alive..." This shocking statement given by a woman police officer to media persons at a hospital gave insight into the kind of violence that unfolded in Uttarakhand's Haldwani. "We were hiding in a house to save ourselves from stone pelting. Then approximately 15 people entered the house, assaulted us and then tried to set the house on fire," the lady officer told media persons.

The policewoman further said, "We barely managed to survive. There was stone pelting from all directions. The bylanes had been blocked. We managed to send out our locations. The man who saved us was attacked. His house was damaged. Eventually, the force came and rescued us. But even during the rescue, shards of glass were being thrown at us. We somehow made it threw."

A tumultuous scene unfolded in Uttarakhand's Haldwani as clashes broke out on Thursday following the demolition of an alleged "illegally built" madrasa and an adjoining mosque. 

In response to the unrest, authorities swiftly deployed four companies of paramilitary forces to Haldwani during an anti-encroachment drive. A shoot-at-sight order was issued against rioters, and internet services were suspended while schools and colleges remained closed. The Uttarakhand government promptly issued a high alert across the state in the wake of the violence in Banbhoolpura, Haldwani.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami convened a high-level meeting to address the escalating crisis in Haldwani. Alongside top officials, including the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Dhami urged citizens to maintain peace and directed stringent action against those instigating violence.

Confirming the deployment of reinforcements, Inspector General Nilesh Anand Bharne of the Police Headquarters stated that four companies of paramilitary personnel were dispatched to the violence-stricken area, with an additional two companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) from Udham Singh Nagar joining the efforts.

Nainital District Administration took swift measures by imposing a curfew in Banbhoolpura and issuing a shoot-at-sight order against rioters. The suspension of internet services and the closure of educational institutions were implemented to restore calm and prevent further escalation of violence.

The clashes erupted following the demolition of the madrasa and mosque, deemed illegal structures on government land. Despite a heavy police presence during the demolition, enraged residents, including women, took to the streets in protest. The confrontations intensified as mobs clashed with law enforcement personnel and municipal workers, resulting in injuries and property damage.

Senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena affirmed that the demolitions were conducted in compliance with a court order, citing the structures' encroachment on government land. However, the situation devolved into chaos as tensions reached a boiling point, underscoring the volatile nature of the incident.

As the authorities work to restore order and investigate the underlying causes of the violence, the aftermath of the clashes serves as a stark reminder of the challenges surrounding communal harmony and land disputes in the region.

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