Update: District Magistrate and District Police Super have been suspended over the Mathura violence.
Update: 24 people, including an SP and an SHO, have been killed in yesterday’s massive clash between police and members of a sect who had encroached on government land here, even as tension prevailed in the area with police seizing a large cache of munition from the site and arresting 320 people.
Lucknow: Twenty-One people, including an SP and an SHO, have been killed in the massive clash between police and encroachers that broke out in Mathura on Thursday even as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has ordered an inquiry.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who spoke to Mr. Yadav, expressed anguish over the loss of lives and assured all necessary help to the State government.
19 people have been killed apart from SP City Mukul Dwivedi and Farah SHO Santosh Yadav, Commissioner (Agra Division) Pradeep Bhatnagar said on Friday. A magisterial probe has also been ordered, he added.
The violence had erupted when police were trying to evict illegal occupants, believed to be of Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi, from Jawahar Bagh on Thursday on the directions of the Allahabad High Court.
Akhilesh Yadav orders probe
In Lucknow, Mr. Yadav ordered a probe by the divisional commissioner of Mathura, an official spokesperson said. DGP Javed Ahmed and Principal Secretary (Home) Debashish Panda have rushed to Mathura.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he has reviewed the situation in Mathura. “I have spoken to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pardesh and reviewed the situation in Mathura. I have assured him of all possible help from the Centre. I am anguished over the loss of lives in the incident in Mathura. May God give strength to the bereaved families,” Mr. Rajnath said.
Police said some vehicles bearing Madhya Pradesh registration number have been found. “The wrath of people against encroachers was such that when they were retreating, they were severely beaten by the public,” an official said.
Activists use grenades, automatic weapons
The activists not only used hand grenades, but also opened fire from automatic weapons after taking position on tree tops, District Magistrate Rajesh Kumar had said.
The area was filled with smoke following explosions from hand grenades and LPG cylinders and several huts caught fire, he said. Over two years ago, activists of splinter group of Baba Jai Gurudeo had occupied hundreds of acres of land of Jawahar Bagh on the pretext of ‘dharna’. Their demands included “cancellation” of election of President and Prime Minister of India, replacement of existing currency with ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ currency, sale of diesel at the rate of 60 litres for one rupee and petrol at the rate of 40 litres for one rupee.
The High Court had, acting on a PIL, directed the authorities to vacate the land. In April, Mathura district administration has issued a notice to the protesters asking them to vacate the land. The land falls under the Horticultural Department of the U.P. government, and attempts by its officials to evict the people had failed.