Uttarakhand: 2 dead, 250 injured in violence after demolition of masjid, madrasa; shoot-at-sight orders issued

News Network
February 9, 2024

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Haldwani, Feb 9: Two people died and 250 were injured in widespread violence over the demolition of a madrasa and an adjoining mosque in Uttarakhand's Haldwani on Thursday. The city has been placed under curfew, with shoot-at-sight orders issued against rioters and internet services completely shut down.

The confrontation reached a boiling point when a team of government officials, accompanied by policemen, attempted to raze the structures following a court order. The madrasa and mosque had been declared illegal by the administration, leading to their demolition. However, this move was met with fierce resistance from residents in the Vanbhulpura area of Haldwani.

Earlier it was reported that four people had died in the clashes but the district magistrate later revised the death count to two. 

The clash led to injuries to over 50 policemen, with several administration officials, municipal workers, and journalists also caught in the crossfire. The large group, described as "unruly elements," threw stones at the officials, prompting the police to retaliate with tear gas. The violence escalated as vehicles outside the police station were set on fire.

The demolitions carried out with heavy police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) presence, aimed to clear government land allegedly encroached upon by the madrasa and the mosque. The demolitions complied with a court order, said senior Superintendent of Police Prahlad Meena.

As the bulldozer razed the structures, enraged residents, including women, took to the streets in protest. As they broke barricades and clashed with the police, the situation escalated rapidly. Mobs then hurled stones at cops, municipal workers, and journalists, resulting in injuries and damage to property. More than 20 motorcycles and a security bus were set ablaze.

"Police did not provoke anyone. Despite that, they were attacked, a police station was vandalised and the rioters tried to burn police personnel inside the station," said Nainital District Magistrate Vandana Singh.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said a team had been dispatched to the area to carry out the demolition after a court order. The Chief Minister stressed that "anti-social elements" in the area had clashed with the police. Additional police and central forces are being deployed to restore order. Mr Dhami has appealed to the public to maintain peace.

Municipal Commissioner Pankaj Upadhyay claimed that the madrasa and namaz site were illegal, highlighting that the Haldwani civic body had previously seized three acres of nearby land and sealed the structures. The Chief Minister, in a meeting with senior officials, discussed prohibitory orders and the necessity for a shoot-at-sight policy against rioters to control the escalating unrest.

As a precautionary measure, a curfew has been imposed across Haldwani; shops and schools have been closed in the affected areas. The situation remains tense, with the Chief Minister urging officials to deal sternly with "anarchic elements." The injured are being treated in hospital, with many suffering head and face injuries.

The Uttarakhand High Court had a hearing on Thursday on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to halt the demolition. The court, however, did not grant relief, and the demolition continued. The matter is scheduled for further hearing on February 14.

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News Network
February 22,2024

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The global affairs team of Elon Musk's X (formerly Twitter) in a post shared on Thursday revealed that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Indian government had issued "executive orders" asking the platform to take actions against specific accounts and posts.

In compliance with the government's orders, the social media giant announced they would be withholding these accounts and posts in India, despite the platform's disagreement with the move.

"We will withhold these accounts and posts in India alone; however, we disagree with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts," the post read.

X said that while they had already provided the affected users with a notice as per their policies, they are yet to file a petition challenging the government's blocking orders.

Even though the platform acknowledged that making the executive orders public was essential for transparency, they were unable to do so owing to legal restrictions.

"This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making," the post concluded.

It is significant to not that in 2022 when Elon Musk took over Twitter (now X), India clarified that it would expect the platform to adhere with the policies of the country irrespective of who owns it.

"Our rules and laws for intermediaries remain the same regardless of who owns the platforms," Rajeev Chandrasekhar, India’s minister of state for electronics and information technology had said. "So, the expectation of compliance with Indian laws and rules remains," Chandrasekhar had further clarified.

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News Network
March 3,2024

Mangaluru, Mar 3: As the Lok Sabha polls are looming, Dakshina Kannada district administration is gearing up to the election process smoothly. According to Deputy Commissioner Mullai Muhilan M P, there are 171 sensitive polling stations in the district, where additional security measures will be deployed during the polls.

While the district has 1,876 polling stations, the district administration has sufficient number of EVMs and VVPAT machines. He said officials have been directed to make necessary arrangements for the smooth conduct of the elections.

At a preparatory meeting held on Thursday, the DC directed officials to ensure basic infrastructure is available at all polling stations across the eight assembly segments in the district.

Drinking water supply, wash rooms, electricity and other facilities should be provided to the polling stations, he added.

Directing the officials from police and other departments to set up checkpoints at all Kerala-Karnataka border entry points, the DC said vehicles entering the district should be checked thoroughly. “Teams should be formed to man the checkposts, and they should work there everyday. Basic facilities should be provided for the staff at the checkposts,” the DC said.

Insisting officials to work in a coordinated manner, the DC said officials on election duty should work responsibly and ensure that there should be no lapses in their work.

The DC said there is a need to keep a watch on the transactions in nationalised, private and cooperative banks in the district. He also insisted that bank officers should be appointed as micro-observers. ZP CEO Dr Anandh K, SP C B Ryshyanth, DCP Siddharth Goyal, additional DC Santhosh Kumar and others were present.

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News Network
February 29,2024

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A German warship partaking in a European anti-Yemen coalition in the Red Sea has mistakenly opened fire on an American MQ-9 Reaper drone, reports say.

German media outlets carried the reports on Monday, describing the attack as a friendly fire incident.

According to Germany's Der Spiegel weekly, the warship fired two missiles at the aircraft, but both the projectiles crashed into the sea because of "a technical defect."

The "Hesse" frigate involved in the incident headed towards the Red Sea earlier this month as means of thwarting Yemen's pro-Palestine operations.

Yemen’s Armed Forces have been targeting Israeli vessels or those bound for the occupied territories’ ports in protest at the Israeli regime's October-present war against the Gaza Strip that has so far killed nearly 30,000 Palestinians.

The forces have vowed to keep up the operations as long as the Israeli regime sustained the war and a simultaneous siege that it has been employing against Gaza.

The German warship opened fire after efforts to identify an unknown drone "were unsuccessful," Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said, adding that the target was "not hit." The aircraft later turned out to be a "reconnaissance drone," he said.

The drone was apparently not related to a United States-led naval coalition that has been similarly operating in the Red Sea to confront the Yemeni operations.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper said it was "common knowledge that American combat drones are used in the region that have nothing to do with the [US-led] operation in the Red Sea."

Spiegel said military officials believed that the incident showed that coordination between allies involved in various missions in the region around Yemen "needs to be improved."

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