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Uttarakhand Police Invoke UAPA in Haldwani Violence Case; Calls for SC-Monitored Probe Oversight Intensify

15 May 2024: In a recent development concerning the tragic events of February 8, 2024, in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, the state police have escalated their legal actions by invoking stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against all 107 accused, including seven women. The violence, which resulted in seven fatalities and numerous injuries amidst police firing and subsequent repression, also caused extensive damage to private properties valued in millions.

Quami Ekta Manch (QEM), a coalition of public-interest organizations, has amplified its call for a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into the incident, releasing a report titled “Banphoolpura Violence: Who is the Real Culprit?” The report underscores the need for justice and accountability, advocating for a compensation package of Rs. 25 lakh for the families of the deceased, Rs. five lakh for the injured, and financial restitution for those who suffered property losses during the unrest.

The indictment by QEM echoes concerns raised by other stakeholders, including retired civil servants and activists, regarding the impartiality and effectiveness of the state administration’s response. Previous appeals for intervention to prevent further deterioration of the situation and ensure the safety of all citizens, particularly minority communities, have yet to yield substantive action on the ground.

Furthermore, a fact-finding mission conducted by civil rights organizations in February 2024 documented instances of police brutality and the disproportionate impact of the violence on vulnerable communities, particularly low-income daily wage earners.

Despite mounting pressure for accountability and impartiality, the response from state authorities, including the magisterial inquiry ordered by the government, has been deemed insufficient by critics. Calls for an impartial judicial inquiry and adherence to Supreme Court directives on hate speech and mob violence remain unresolved.

As the legal proceedings progress and public scrutiny intensifies, the demand for transparency, justice, and inclusive governance in Uttarakhand grows louder, underscoring the importance of upholding human rights and the rule of law in the face of communal tensions and political polarization.

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