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At least five killed in protest over mosque demolition in north Indian town

Authorities in Uttarakhand state’s Haldwani town bulldoze a mosque and religious school, triggering anger among the residents.

At least five people have been killed and dozens others injured during a protest sparked by the demolition of a mosque and a religious school in India, the latest in a spate of demolitions targeting Muslim structures.

Municipal authorities in Haldwani town in the northern state of Uttarakhand bulldozed the buildings on Thursday, saying they had been built without permission.

Police said Muslims torched vehicles and threw stones at them in the protest that followed, prompting them to fire live ammunition and tear gas in response.

Vandana Singh, the district magistrate of Nainital district, where Haldwani is located, said at a news conference the demolition and its aftermath were “not communal and should not be seen as such”.

She said the protest was linked to a government drive to demolish a “property that is neither registered as religious site nor has it been given any such recognition”.

“Some call the structure a madrassa,” she added.

But residents said the mosque and the school in Haldwani’s Banphoolpur area were nearly two decades old and had been unfairly targeted.

A top police official in Uttarakhand on Friday told The Indian Express newspaper five people were killed in the protest, but did not identify them.

Officials said dozens of others, including police officers, were wounded and are being treated in various hospitals of the city.

Authorities in Haldwani have given shoot-on-sight orders, imposed a curfew, suspended internet services, closed schools and banned large gatherings.

Sumit Hridayesh, a state legislator from the opposition Indian National Congress party who represents