Dhami Government Must Stop Targeting Minorities in Uttarakhand

Haldwani town has not yet recovered from the trauma of Banbhoolpura violence of 8 February that began in the wake of the demolition of a mosque and a madarsa. In the aftermath, Banbhoolpura residents reportedly faced violence by the police for many days in the name of search operations and raids. The targeting of Muslim shopkeepers and vendors by Hindutva groups has taken place with impunity in other localities of Haldwani. This continues despite reports coming into local media but the police administration has not arrested anyone of those frenzied hindutva groups making trouble.

Now the Uttarakhand administration has issued eviction notices in Bagjala in Golapaar, an area at the outskirts of Haldwani, not too far from Banbhoolpura. The notices were issued by the forest department. CPIML Nainital district secretary Dr. Kailash Pandey says this is a deliberate attempt to evict the poor from their homes and must be opposed. People are living for decades on these lands, paying all dues like electricity bills. They are not encroachers.

These people living on lands classified as forest, leased, Nazul or other for decades must be given land ownership rights and not evicted. Residents of Bagjala earn livelihoods mostly from agriculture, animal husbandry and daily wage labour.

With the constant fear of state repression and bulldozers, Banbhoolpura residents, mostly from the working class, are finding it difficult to earn their livelihoods.

In Kamaluaganja, a locality at the other end of the town, Hindutva groups are threatening Muslim shopkeepers and forcing them to shut their shops. On 16 February, a group of right-wing members on motorcycles forcefully closed the shops of Muslims between Kamaluaganja and Kathgharia stretch. Despite this, the police and state administration have remained a mute spectator.

On the night of 23 February, the shanty of a small cotton quilt vendor, a migrant muslim worker from Thakurdwara, was burnt down by miscreants. Many such craftsmen used to come for seasonal work in towns of Uttarakhand. Several other shops belonging to the Muslim community were also damaged earlier.

Many Hindus in the area are also facing the wrath of these Hindutva terror groups and are forced to ask Muslim tenants to vacate the shops. Although some local activists and Hindu shopkeepers resisted the communal frenzy being orchestrated by the right-wing group, there is a deep sense of fear among Muslim shopkeepers. By 27 February, nearly a dozen out of approximately 150 minority shopkeepers opened shops at Kamaluaganja, Kathgharia, Bachi Nagar road and Ramdi Jasuva road. But the numerous others are choosing to leave the area due to the fear of attack. The lack of action by police point towards the state government's patronage impunity to these Hindutva terror groups.


A CPIML - AICCTU delegation comprising Dr. Kailash Pandey, KK Bora and Advocate Kailash Joshi met the team of the National Minorities Commission, which was in Haldwani on February 22. The delegation submitted a memorandum demanding a high level judicial probe into the incidents of 8 February in Banbhoolpura and action against the DM and SSP of Nainital for their provocatives and irresponsible decisions. They also demanded an investigation into the questionable actions of Haldwani city commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay, who in some viral videos of the incident, found to be very biased and offensive.

The delegation condemned the violent and vengeful crackdown perpetrated by the police in Banbhoolpura post the incident of February 8. These leaders also brought to the attention of the Minority Commission members the issue of Nazul land which is being used as a tool for selectively evicting poor and minorities in Uttarakhand. Nazul lands are government land leased to, and occupied by, people for various purposes mostly since the colonial times and this has been the norm to renew those leases as a matter of mere formality. Now the BJP government is selectively cancelling such leases to target the minority community, while it is reported that more than half of the Haldwani town is inhabited on Nazul lands. The CPIML has been demanding regularisation and ownership rights to residents on all Nazul lands as well as other inhabitations like the ones in Bagjala which is technically marked as forest land.

The delegation also apprised the Commission of the vicious communal propaganda being done by the Uttarakhand government leaders, especially by the CM Dhami, in the name of 'land jihad' which is a motivated lie and must be stopped.

Another delegation of Quomi Ekta Manch, a joint platform of many social and political organisations, including AICCTU leaders, met with the SSP of Nainital an SP City on 26 February. They for immediate action and arrest of RSS associated Vipin Pandey, whose right-wing terror group has been intimidating the shopkeepers from minority communities. They also called for police to provide protection for the Muslim shopkeepers who are being threaded with violence.

Banbhoolpura violence