Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Uttarakhand: Registration of 91 Muslim Shopkeepers Cancelled in Dharchula by Traders' Body

Sabrang India |
Protest memorandum submitted by delegation of Jan Manch & CPI (ML) to DM, Pithoragarh, highlights selective targeting.
Protest memorandum submitted by delegation of Jan Manch & CPI (ML) to DM, Pithoragarh, highlights selective targeting

On March 18, a delegation of the Jan Manch (Pithoragarh) and the CPI (ML) of Uttarakhand met with the District Magistrate of and submitted a memorandum against the cancellation of registration of shopkeepers from a minority religious minority in Uttarakhand’s Dharchula. The memorandum protests the campaign being run against the Muslim shopkeepers is a result of the poisonous politics of communal polarisation and states that it is a matter of serious concern.

As per a report of The Telegraph, the local traders’ association in Dharchula cancelled the registrations of 91 shops after a Muslim youth, who used to work at a barber shop, eloped with two girls to his home state of Uttar Pradesh. Referring to this incident, the memorandum states that only the person accused of the crime can be held responsible by the authorities, but under the guise of the incident, the whole community is being targeted.

Through the memorandum, the delegation also accused the local administration and state police of maintaining a mute stance while this “anti-Constitutional” exercise is being carried out in the state.

The full memorandum can be read here:

प्रति, महामहिम राज्यपाल महोदय,

उत्तराखंड शासन, देहरादून. द्वारा : श्रीमान जिलाधिकारी महोदय, पिथौरागढ़. 

महामहिम, पिथौरागढ़ जिले के सीमांत नगर- धारचुला में इन दिनों एक ऐसा अभियान चलाया जा रहा है, वो अपनी प्रवृत्ति में सांप्रदायिक घृणा से भरा हुआ और संविधान विरोधी है. महामहिम, धारचुला के व्यापार मंडल ने बाहरी बता कर उनकी दुकानें खोलने पर रोक लगा दी है, उन्हें दुकानें खाली करने को कह दिया गया है और व्यापार संघ में उनका पंजीकरण निरस्त कर दिया गया. इस अभियान के पूरे स्वरूप से स्पष्ट है कि इसके पीछे सांप्रदायिक ध्रुवीकरण की जहरीली राजनीति काम कर रही है. देश के किसी भी हिस्से में व्यापार- व्यवसाय करने की आज़ादी भारत का संविधान अपने हर नागरिक को देता है. कोई अपराध करे तो उसे सजा दिलाने का काम पुलिस और न्यायालय का है. जिस घटना की आड़ लेकर यह उन्मादी अभियान चलाया जा रहा है, उसमें पुलिस विधि सम्मत कार्यवाही कर चुका है. उसके बावजूद उन्मादी अभियान चलाना दर्शता है कि इसके पीछे मंतव्य कुछ और है. महामहिम, यह बेहद अफसोस की बात है कि एक सीमांत शहर में यह सांप्रदायिक कवायद लंबे अरसे से चल रही है और स्थानीय प्रशासन व पुलिस मूकदर्शक बने हुए हैं.लोकसभा चुनाव की आदर्श आचार संहिता लागू होने के बावजूद प्रशासन और पुलिस का इस मामले में चुप्पी साधे रहना गंभीर चिंता का विषय है. महामहिम, आप से निवेदन है कि तत्काल इस प्रकरण में हस्तक्षेप करते हुए अपने अधीनस्थों को निर्देशित करें कि धारचुला में बाहर बता कर बेदखल किये जा रहे व्यापारियों का उत्पीड़न रोका जाए और उन्हें संपूर्ण सुरक्षा प्रदान की जाए.


सहयोगाकांक्षी गोविंद कफलिया, जिला सचिव, भाकपा (माले), पिथौरागढ़. भगवान रावत पिथौरागढ़ जन मंच हेमंत खाती भाकपा (माले)


Selective targeting:

As per the Telegraph report, Mahesh Gabrayal, general secretary of the Dharchula Vyapar Mandal, has justified the aforementioned action based on the allegation of “them” luring their daughters. In the report, Gabrayal was quoted as saying, “The registrations of 91 shops were cancelled after consulting the local administration and their owners were asked to leave the area. Many of them have been luring our daughters.”

Gabrayal further provided that after the eloping incident took place, the association identified the shopkeepers that were doing their business illegally, and cancelled their registration. As per the report, Gabrayal said “A barber from Bareilly enticed two minor girls and took them away last month. Thereafter, we identified 91 shopkeepers who were doing business here illegally. They didn’t register with the Vyapar Mandal, which is mandatory in Uttarakhand.” Gabrayal further provided that the association had also decided to cancel the registration of all the traders who came here from other states before 2000.

It has been provided that all the 91 shopkeepers whose registration has been cancelled are from western Uttar Pradesh and belong to the Muslim community. It has been reported that the shopkeepers have been told by the association to immediately leave the area in view of the marches being organised by the “agitated residents” against the “illegal shops” on a daily basis.

“A total of 175 businessmen from the town have been identified so far. They all belong to western Uttar Pradesh. Local youths will be able to start businesses and earn a livelihood if we remove the outsiders from here,” Gabrayal stated, as per the Telegraph report.

Riyaz Ahmad, one of the shopkeepers whose registration has been cancelled, spoke to the Telegraph and deemed such selective targeting to be wrong. As per the report, Ahmad said that “Such an atrocity against traders from one particular community is wrong. All of them cannot be punished for the crime of one person. We don’t support the barber with whom the girls eloped. We have closed our shops but request the government to discuss the matter with the association and resolve it.”

It is also essential to note that a delegation of the affected traders also met with the administrative officials of Pithoragarh district, under which Dharchula falls, and urged them to intervene and ensure that the targeted Muslims are allowed to continue with their business.

With the regards to the same, Manjit Singh, sub-divisional magistrate of Dharchula, has assured that the issues raised by the delegation of shopkeepers will be discussed with the association. As per the report, Singh said that “We appeal to the people to maintain peace. The shopkeepers have raised some issues and we will discuss them with the leaders of their association soon.”

One a peaceful state, now a centre of communal disharmony:

The incident of selective targeting of the Muslim community in the state of Uttarakhand is not the first incident of communal disharmony reported from the state. While the aforementioned Dharchula, Pithoragarh incident is the most recent such incident, there is a consistent pattern of connivance with small groups terrorising Muslims as well as a state administration that targets Muslim properties. One must not forget the targeting and exodus of Muslims from the state of Uttarakhand in June last year, again under the guise of ‘love jihad’ being committed by Muslims. Even then, in Purola, the supposed conspiracy of ‘love jihad’ was given communal fire and was used as the pretext to terrorise Muslim shopkeepers and traders.

For a detailed coverage of the forced Muslim exodus from Purola, Uttarakhand, kindly refer hereherehere and here.

Communal tensions in Haldwani, Uttarakhand had flared up in the month February of 2024. On February 8, the Municipal office, accompanied by police presence, had demolished a Mosque and Madrasa in the Banbhoolpura area. As the demolition was takin place, incidents of stone pelted were reported. Communal violence of a major scale was the result. As per a fact-finding report, while official figures suggested that seven lives were lost in the violence, local residents from Banbhoolpura area feared that the toll would be as high as 18-20.

A detailed report on the violence can be read here.

Many allege that the aforementioned communal polarisation and targeting in Pithoragarh to be a political plank to polarise Hindu voters in the Almora parliamentary constituency, under which Pithoragarh falls. Notably, Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami represents the adjoining Champawat seat in the Assembly. These recent incidents make Uttarakhand fit to be included in a case study of how a previously peaceful state – one that has essentially never seen violence or repression of this scale – can see consistently biased actions by a state administration and ruling party targeting its minority citizens.

Courtesy: sabrang India

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram