A protest turned tragic in India as at least five individuals lost their lives and numerous others sustained injuries amidst the uproar following the demolition of a mosque and religious school. This incident adds to a disturbing trend of demolitions disproportionately affecting Muslim structures.
The municipal authorities in Haldwani, situated in the Northern State of Uttarakhand, razed these buildings on Thursday, citing unauthorised construction as the reason behind their actions.
Reports indicate that the Muslim community responded with vehicular arson and stone-pelting, which led to law enforcement resorting to live ammunition and tear gas to control the situation.
Addressing the media, Vandana Singh, the district magistrate of Nainital district, where Haldwani is located, emphasised that the demolition and ensuing protests should not be viewed through a communal lens.
Singh clarified that the demolition was part of a broader government initiative targeting properties lacking proper registration or recognition as religious sites.
“Some call the structure a madrassa,” she added.
However, local residents argue that the mosque and school, situated in Haldwani’s Banphoolpur area, had stood for nearly two decades and were unfairly singled out.
A senior police official in Uttarakhand confirmed to The Indian Express newspaper that five individuals lost their lives during the protest, but their identities remain undisclosed.
Furthermore, numerous individuals, including police personnel, sustained injuries and are currently undergoing treatment in various city hospitals.
In response to the escalating situation, authorities in Haldwani have issued shoot-on-sight orders, imposed a curfew, suspended internet services, shut down schools, and banned large gatherings.