A magisterial probe has been ordered after 24 people died in clashes that erupted between the police and encroachers in Jawahar Bagh area in Mathura on Thursday evening.
The violence erupted when the police tried to evict illegal occupants, believed to be of Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi, from Jawahar Bagh on the directions of the Allahabad High Court.
The activists not only used hand grenades but also opened fire from automatic weapons after taking position on tree tops, DM Rajesh Kumar said.
Additional police reinforcement had to be rushed to the area to control the situation. A huge cache of arms & ammunition wss recovered from the encroachers, said the police.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav admitted to lapses by the state police.
“There were some lapses. Police should have gone with full preparation and after holding talks, but there was no information that they would be having so much arms and ammunition,” said CM Akhilesh Yadav.
The Centre too, trained its guns on the lapse by the state government.
“There were lapses on the part of the Uttar Pradesh government….This shouldn’t have happened, UP government should look into why this happened,” said MoS Home, Kiren Rijiju.
Earlier in the day, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav and assured all necessary help to the state government.
“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,” Rajnath Singh said.
Two senior police officers including a Superintendent of Police and an SHO are said to have died in the clashes.
Around 3,000 encroachers pelted stones and later opened fire at the police team as they reached the spot, said IG (Law and Order) H R Sharma while describing the incident. In retaliation, the police had to fire after using batons and tear gas at them, he explained.
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 Allahabad 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 UP government, and attempts by its officials to evict the people had failed.
(With inputs from PTI)