Conflagration In Haldwani Was Preceded By A Spate Of Demolitions & The Steady Demonisation Of Muslims (Article-14)

Before fury over the demolition of a mosque and madrasa In Uttarakhand’s Haldwani city on 8 February led to the death of five Muslims and injuries to about 100 police, a pressure-cooker situation had built up in a state known as dev bhoomi or God’s land. More than 400 Muslim shrines and properties were demolished in 2023 and attacks, Islamophobic speech—including from the current BJP chief minister—and calls for the state to be cleansed of Muslims were rife. We found riot-hit families alleging police brutality, arbitrary detentions and no idea about how to get legal help.

Mohd Suhail, 23, and his brother Amaan, 17, display a photo of their late father Mohammed Israr, who succumbed to injuries six days after police allegedly fired at his head during rioting in Uttarakhand’s southeastern city of Haldwani on 8 February, following the demolition of a mosque and madrasa/ SABAH GURMAT

By Sabah Gurmat

Haldwani (Uttarakhand): For 28-year-old Nafeesa—a gaunt, young woman and mother of four children aged three to 11—making a living was always difficult, with the family barely surviving on her husband’s daily wages of about Rs 400 a day as an itinerant labourer.

Life became even more difficult after 12 February 2024, four days after riots erupted after the demolition of a mosque and madrasa here in this southeastern Uttarakhand city, regarded as the state’s commercial capital.

Early that afternoon, the police picked up her husband, Shueb. “Two policemen came to our home and said, ‘We are just taking you for some questioning, we will release you soon,’” she said. But it’s been four days since he’s gone. I have no idea where he is.”

Police sweeps in the area began after at least five died in police firing on Muslim mobs, and a curfew kept local housebound in the Muslim-dominated neighbourhood of Banbhoolpura. Hundreds were arbitrarily detained, locals alleged. In interviews, families of some of those detained alleged police violence and vandalism and said they had no idea what legal recourse to take.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here .

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