Haldwani violence: Restoration of peace has to be the priority - The Tribune India

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Haldwani violence

Restoration of peace has to be the priority

Haldwani violence

A court-mandated removal of religious structures, particularly at a disputed site, calls for extreme caution. That primarily involves working out a strategy to keep emotions under control and to be prepared for any eventuality. The turn of events in Haldwani is deeply troubling. The Uttarakhand government claims that the violence after an anti-encroachment drive in an area where a mosque and a madrasa stood was not communal. According to the District Magistrate, it was a planned attack on the state machinery. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, who issued shoot-on-sight orders, said an attempt was made to kill police personnel and other officials. The authorities maintain that they went ahead with the demolition as the high court had declined a stay on the proceedings. An area councillor counters that there would have been no resistance had the authorities waited for the court’s final word. Amid contrasting claims, six persons are dead, scores are injured and peace lies shattered.

The stringent National Security Act is set to be invoked against the rioters, who are accused of hurling stones, setting cars ablaze and gheraoing a police station. A policy of zero tolerance to violence, whatever the provocation, is appropriate. The test for the government is to not be seen as selective while implementing this policy. A similarly tough approach is expected with regard to the administrative lapses. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered; and responsibility must be fixed. The violence in Haldwani gives rise to questions that need to be carefully considered: Were intelligence inputs about the possibility of disturbance ignored? Why the urgency to conduct the demolition drive? Were community leaders taken into confidence?

Restoration of peace has to be the top priority now. Peace committees should be set up to initiate a dialogue, calm nerves and avert a communal flare-up.


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