Nainital District Magistrate Vandana Singh today made a big claim in the Haldwani riots case. Singh said that the protestors had premeditated their actions, intending to launch an attack on the police the day bulldozer operations were scheduled. DM Vandana Singh said that violence erupted half an hour after the demolition and rioters even tried to burn police personnel alive. She said that stones were strategically placed on rooftops and petrol bombs were thrown into the police station with the intention of setting it ablaze. She refuted the allegation of intelligence failures adding that those resorting to violence posed a challenge to the state. Showing video of the demolition drive to media, Singh said that Police force and the administration were not provoking or harming anybody. She said that the encroachment drive was done after HC’s order. “Despite the entire process being carried out properly, a large mob, within half an hour attacked our municipal cooperation team,” she said. The DM added that stone were piled up on the roofs in advance for the attack.
Responding to media queries, Singh said, “The administration went there to clear encroachment in Banbhoolpura of Haldwani in India. If the state has to do a war-like preparation just to clear an encroachment in India, then this poses serious questions on the people involved.” She further said, “The demolition drive started peacefully, the force was deployed for prevention…Stones were pelted on our Municipal Corporation’s team…It was planned that the day the demolition drive will be conducted the forces would be attacked…The first mob with stones were dispersed & the second mob that came in had petrol bombs. This was unprovoked and our team did not use any force.”
DM Nainital Singh also said that as soon as the mob was dispersed, they headed to the Gandhi Nagar area where people from all communities and religions live. “Efforts were made (by the mob) to terrorize the area…Our priority was to protect the police station and then ensure that no loss of life or property occurred in Gandhi Nagar…Our efforts were directed to protect the main city of Haldwani,” she said.
“The police station has been completely damaged by the mob…This is an unfortunate incident. The accused will be identified and strict action will be taken. This (incident) was not communal. I request everybody to not make it communal or sensitive. Any particular community did not retaliate…This was an effort to challenge the state machinery, state government and the law and order situation,” she said.
While reports claimed that four people died in the clashes, the DM pegged the official figure at two deaths. Over 100 police personnel were injured in the clashes which DM Singh said was not communal and as an attempt to challenge the state machinery. Meanwhile, a curfew remains imposed in the area with a heavy presence of police and paramilitary personnel.
On the other hand, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami said that a strict action will be taken against culprits. “Will take strictest action against rioters and miscreants In connection with the incident that took place in Banbhulpura, Haldwani, a high-level meeting was held with the officials at the government residence and the current situation was reviewed. Police have been given clear instructions to deal strictly with unruly elements. Every rioter who indulged in arson and stone pelting is being identified, no miscreant who disturbs harmony and peace will be spared. Respected people of Haldwani are requested to cooperate with the police administration in maintaining peace and order,” said Dhami.
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