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Haldwani ‘protests’ by encroachers a social media drama, markets working as usual, Owaisi-Zubair types want to make it Shaheen Bagh 2

Haldwani ground report, where things are business as usual contrary to what is portrayed in the social media.

On Tuesday, January 3, 2023, OpIndia team visited Haldwani in Uttarakhand to conduct a ground investigation of the dispute over the removal of illegal encroachers on railway land in the city. Due to the outrage on social media and the coverage in national media, we expected the place to be simmering with tension. However, contrary to the media reports the situation in Haldwani felt quite normal. There was vibrant activity in the markets and people were busy with their daily activities. Apart from the rest of the areas, Banbhoolpura area, which witnessed the protests by the illegal encroachers this week, also looked completely calm.

Continuous patrolling of the Railway Protection Force

We reached Haldwani railway station around 12 noon. The High Court has issued orders regarding the removal of encroachments on the lands around this station. From the windows of the train, one can clearly see the area called Gafur Basti where illegal occupants have encroached on the railways land, and are being defended by the likes of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and propaganda outlet Alt News’ co-founder Mohammed Zubair. From the station, we saw that Railway Protection Force personnel were continuously patrolling the tracks.

Security forces in the number of 3-4 were repeatedly patrolling the tracks going on both sides of the station.

Security personnel on the Railway lines

Along with this, the soldiers were also ready on the platform. Jawans were also seen patrolling continuously in the parking place of Haldwani railway station.

Force outside station

The best way to reach Gafoor Basti from the station is on foot, because where the boundary of the station ends, Gafoor Basti starts from there.

Heavy police force deployed inside the city as well

After leaving the station campus, we headed towards other parts of the city to take stock of the current situation. During this we visited areas like Sadar Bazar, Kidwai Nagar, Naya Bazar etc. We found that police personnel were ready at almost all intersections. However, after a while a large procession of Sikhs (Sardars) also came out.

Sikhs carrying out a ‘shobha yatra’

The local people informed us that additional police force has been deployed in the city for the security of the Sikh procession. The procession ended around 4 pm, then the police force was also reduced.

The situation is very normal in Vanbhulpura Gafoor Basti

While media and social media reports believed that there is preparation for Shaheen Bagh-2 in Haldwani, nothing like this was visible on the ground level on January 3. The OpIndia team also visited the areas of Vanbhulpura which have been declared as encroachment areas and marked for bulldozing. At those places, people were seen passing the day like normal days. 2 Nepali citizens roaming in Vanbhulpura area and selling vegetables there, when I asked about the place of dharna etc., they told themselves that they are unaware of any matter.

Even after visiting almost the entire Vanbhulpura area, we did not see any crowd, any noise, protest or uproar anywhere.

The special thing here is that apart from the rest of the city, people were not heard discussing the occupation and anti-encroachment campaign in Vanbhulpura area itself. The main topic of their conversation was cold and temperature.

Media movement is also negligible

In Haldwani, where top trends are being done in social media, the media movement was negligible. While roaming in Vanbhulpura and Kidwai Nagar areas for about 2 hours, we saw only the team of ‘Mirror Now’ doing coverage. However, on seeing him, someone from behind shouted ‘media go back’. During this no one talked to the media persons. His team returned after about 15 minutes.

OpIndia team will be on ground in Haldwani for next 2-3 days and bring you reports. Along with finding out the truth about the protests, our team will also try and go to the bottom of the ‘Muslims in India under attack’ narrative that is being peddled. We will also try and find out who all are supporting these protests, both local as well as outsiders. The crowd that is being shown on social media as the affected people, we will try and find out who they are.

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राहुल पाण्डेय
राहुल पाण्डेय
धर्म और राष्ट्र की रक्षा को जीवन की प्राथमिकता मानते हुए पत्रकारिता के पथ पर अग्रसर एक प्रशिक्षु। सैनिक व किसान परिवार से संबंधित।

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