Harsh Mander: The deep Hindutva roots of the violence that reduced a mosque to rubble in Haldwani (Scroll)

For months, Hindutva organisations have spearheaded a campaign of hate against Uttarakhand’s Muslims residents that has been amplified by the chief minister.

Credit: Pushkar Singh Dhami @pushkardhami/X.


The picturesque mountain state of Uttarakhand is today smoldering with hate and fear. Reversing its centuries-old tradition of religious harmony, the state is rapidly emerging instead as one of the frontier battlegrounds in the Hindutva struggle for transforming pluralist India into a land only for its Hindu residents.

On February 8, the city administrators of Haldwani, buoyed by a large police force and around a hundred municipal workers, marched with bulldozers to demolish a 20-year-old mosque and madrasa. This sparked public rage as people threw stones at the police and municipal workers, and a group even set fire to a police station. The police responded with “shoot at sight” orders, leaving in its trail at least six people dead and many more seriously injured.

Less than a week later, I joined a fact-finding team of members of the Karwan-e-Mohabbat and the Association for Protection of Civil Rights. From the Karwan-e-Mohabbat were Navsharan Singh, Ashok Sharma, Zahid Qadri, Kumar Nikhil and I. From the Association for Protection of Civil Rights were Nadim Khan and Mohd Mobashir.

We found the city still tense and its social fabric torn. Haldwani is the second-most populous city in Uttarakhand. The old city that abuts a military cantonment mostly has a majority of Muslim residents. The newer portions of the city grew later with Hindu residents migrating to it from the hills and other parts of India.

Before the February 8 clash, the city had never endured communal clashes. Even the violence of February 8 was not a clash between the Muslim and Hindu residents of the city. It was an ugly street battle that broke out between the state administration and a section of Muslim residents enraged by the peremptory and what they regarded as unjust demolition of a mosque and madrasa.

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

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