The DGP has denied accusations of police assault during the Banbhoolpura crackdown.
Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura remains tense with the imposition of a curfew and at least five deaths after violence following the demolition of an “illegal” mosque and madrasa on Thursday last week.
Roads leading to the locality are heavily barricaded and the area is being manned by over a 1,000 security personnel. The Pushkar Singh Dhami government has vowed strict action against “miscreants”. And the police have arrested 25 persons in three FIRs and claimed to have seized at least seven pistols as they try to nab those who they say clashed with security personnel last week.
Tucked in the corner of Haldwani with a dumping ground and the dried-up Gola river behind it, the Muslim dominated locality of Banbhoolpura provides skilled labour to the city – from auto mechanics to plumbers and construction workers.
And locals allege that the police crackdown has unfairly targeted them.
Newslaundry spoke to at least three people injured allegedly in police action two days after the demolition.
Kaif, an 18-year-old who was brought to Krishna Hospital near Banbhoolpura on Saturday, was diagnosed with a skull fracture. “About five cops broke the door of our house and barged inside. Then they thrashed me with lathis. I pleaded with them to spare me but they kept saying that I was pelting stones on February 8…they did not listen to me,” he alleged. “Why would I pelt stones at the police? I don’t have a father, I have to earn for my family. I am a construction worker; I hardly earn Rs 100 a day. But they did not listen to me even once.”
Dr Rahul Singh, who treated Kaif, said his “skull bone was fractured”. A medico-legal certificate showed that the teenager had received an injury on his head from a blunt object such as a “brick” or a “lathi”. He was discharged from the hospital on Monday.
His mother Rehana said she does not want to file a complaint against the police. “There is no one in my family to fight these cases.”
Dr H B Singh, the hospital’s medical superintendent, meanwhile, said that Kaif was among six local residents from the curfew area who were brought to the facility on Saturday.
Among the six were also family members of Saleem Khan, a local and a reporter, who received a call from his daughter around 3 pm on Saturday evening. “The cops have barged into our house…Come and help us! Do something,” she cried.
His wife Rizwana, his eldest daughter, and his younger daughter received treatment at the Krishna hospital for injuries in their hands, said Dr HB Singh. Khan’s sister-in-law had a forehead injury.
Meanwhile, visuals reviewed by Newslaundry showed an LED television, wash basin, and a wall mirror broken at Khan’s house.
Rizwana alleged that about 10 police officers “broke the door of our house and barged inside”. “They thrashed us brutally and broke all our furniture…we kept pleading with them that we are innocent but they paid no heed. They dragged us out of the house with our hair. They were also abusing us.”
Dr HB Singh, who treated Khan’s family, said they had also received injuries from blunt objects.
Uttarakhand’s DGP Abhinav Kumar, however, has “categorically rejected” the allegations of bias and said that police acted in self-defence after they were attacked while they had accompanied civil authorities for the demolition.
Speaking to Newslaundry, Kumar said, “I totally reject these allegations of police assault.” “There is a magisterial inquiry going on as well as a criminal investigation. People are free to report on these allegations before inquiries and court. But you cannot justify the mob violence that took place.”