The local authorities of Haldwani town, in northern India, have bulldozed a mosque and a madrasa on Thursday. The justification for this was that the buildings had been erected without permission, however residents claimed that the two structures had stood for nearly twenty years.
As a result of this, Muslims in the town took to the street to protest, with the police deployed to deal with the protest. It was reported that some protestors had set fire to vehicles and thrown rocks at police. The police stated that this was the reason for them to deploy tear gas and fire live ammunition into the crowd.
The shots fired by local police killed at least 5 people and injured 20 or more.
The Chief Minister of the state, as well as the district magistrate of the area, in which Haldwani is located justified the actions of the local authorities. The district magistrate stated that the structure had not been registered and was thus destroyed. The Chief Minister went further, saying that all those involved in the protest and believed to have caused unrest would be found and punished, without exemption.
This comes following a string of actions taken by Indian authorities to destroy Muslim owned businesses, homes, and places of worship.
In January last year, there were wide spread protests after the government demolished 4,000 homes belonging to Muslims in Haldwani, claiming that those homes had encroached on state railway land. Following this, according to reports from Amnesty International, Indian authorities carried out the systematic destruction of at least 128 Muslim owned properties, which resulted in homelessness or loss of income for over 617 people.
Last month, on the 21st of January, a group of Hindu nationalists with saffron flags had been stopped by a group of Muslim locals in Mumbai. Two days later, state authorities began demolishing 15 shops, including those of street vendors, in a predominantly Muslim area of Mumbai. No notices of eviction were issued before the demolition took place, according to local activists.
Actions to impede Muslim worship have also been carried out, with a court in India having allowed Hindus to worship inside the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. An Indian court granted the permission following a complaint filed by Hindus claiming that the area where the mosque is located was once the site of a Hindu temple.