Muslims protest in Uttarakhand over forced closure of their shops; seek protection

The incident had triggered tension in Kamaluaganja area under the Mukhani police station.

June 22, 2023 09:24 pm | Updated 09:24 pm IST - Haldwani (Uttarakhand)

Members of the Muslim community on Thursday held a demonstration here alleging that their shops at Kamaluaganja area in Uttarakhand were forcibly closed and that they were being asked to leave or face consequences. The protesters also submitted a memorandum to the senior superintendent of police seeking protection for the minorities and demanded the release of a man accused of bestiality.

They claimed that their shops in Buddha Park area on the outskirts of the town had been targeted over the past week.

They also said that one Nafis was arrested on June 14 as some local people accused him of indulging in bestiality. They claimed Nafis's head was shaved and he was beaten up by the people.

The police booked Nafis under IPC and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. He was later arrested.

The incident had triggered tension in Kamaluaganja area under the Mukhani police station where people allegedly damaged some shops belonging to the Muslim community and also forced their closure.

About 50-60 unnamed people have been booked under different sections of the IPC, including 147 (rioting), 355 (assault) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), in connection with the vandalism, police officials in Haldwani and Nainital said, adding that no arrests have been made. "Additional police deployments had been made in the area immediately after the incident on June 14 and the situation is well within control now," SP (City), Haldwani, Harbans Singh said. According to the memorandum submitted to the police, the protesters claimed Nafis was innocent and that he had gone to ask for his dues from a villager when he was falsely charged and thrashed by the people, who they said, had the backing of the party in power.

The Muslim community members also alleged that Nafis was arrested by the police without examining the charges levelled against him.

"There is no law and order in Kamaluaganja and the morale of 'anti-social' elements is high," the memorandum read.

"Article 19 of the Constitution gives all citizens the right to live, settle and do their businesses in any part of the country, but this constitutional provision is being violated openly in Kamaluaganja," it said. Even the Supreme Court has ruled that police should take suo motu action against those responsible for making hate speeches, the protesters asserted. They demanded immediate release of Nafis and named FIRs against people spreading anarchy by shaving his head, beating him up and forcing the closure of shops belonging to the Muslim community. They also threatened to hold another demonstration in Buddha Park on July 2 if immediate action was not taken on their demands. The tension in Kamaluaganja and growing insecurity among the minority community comes close on the heels of a similar situation in Purola town of Uttarkashi where posters had appeared on shops run by Muslims asking them to leave the town or prepare to face the repercussions.

The flare-up in Purola was triggered over news of alleged abduction of a minor girl.

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