Last Updated: February 12, 2024, 11:21 IST
Charred remains of vehicles on the side of the ride in the aftermath of the Uttarakhand violence. (Image: PTI)
In an exclusive interview to CNN-News18, DGP Abhinav Kumar said that except one person, all those who died in the violence were young men from the Malik Ka Bagicha area who may have been part of the mob
For five hours, policemen in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura kept sending SOS calls to police headquarters in Dehradun as a riotous mob surrounded their ‘thana’ and hurled petrol bombs, Uttarakhand DGP Abhinav Kumar told CNN-News18.
In an exclusive conversation, Kumar said: “The violence began at 4pm on February 8 and was finally controlled around 9pm. I got so many calls and messages from colleagues who were surrounded by the mob. Several police vehicles were torched. The entire ‘thana’ was surrounded and stones and petrol bombs were hurled. We managed to get things back in control with great difficulty.”
The police suspect that this was a premeditated conspiracy. “The number of stones, petrol bombs, and crude arms that were used couldn’t have been procured instantly. I agree that police missed out on the kind of mobilisation that was done by the accused,” the DGP said.
Officials said the state Intelligence, in its report, had asked for drone surveillance of the area before the demolition drive. An enquiry is on to ascertain if this was missed by the local police.
Local police, as per officials, have recovered more than 150 rounds of ammunitions and seven small arms from the 25 people who have been arrested. Police suspect the arms and ammunition were looted from the Banbhoolpura police station before it was burnt down.
Rejecting allegations made against the police for provoking and mishandling the situation, Kumar said: “The police acted in the lawful exercise of their right to self-defence in discharge of their official duties. We have sufficient audio-visual evidence to this effect. It will be presented in the ongoing magisterial inquiry and criminal investigation.”
Police is scanning CCTV footage and mobile videos to identify those who indulged in violence. Kumar said the identity of those identified through videos is being compared to their Aadhaar IDs and cross verified to avoid any mix-up. Nanital Police, through a social media post, also denied all charges of police harassing women or children.
“Except one person, all those who died in the violence were young men from the Malik Ka Bagicha area. We strongly suspect that they were part of the mob. One person may have been caught in the cross-fire between the mob and police,” the DGP said.
He added that charges against Uttarakhand Police are wrong since “police had gone to Banbhoolpura in aid of an ongoing, legally sanctioned anti-encroachment drive being carried out by civil authorities. They were attacked by a violent mob”.
Officials also pointed out that the high court had not given any relief to main accused Abdul Malik who is seen in a video arguing with the police and showing some papers. “They moved the high court around 1pm on 8th. No stay was given. The matter was posted for 18th. How was police action wrong?” Kumar questioned, adding that police intend to act without any bias in full accordance with the law.