LUCKNOW: The alleged mastermind of the violence in Mathura died after his hut caught fire in the rioting that followed a police anti-encroachment drive against members of his cult, police said on Saturday.
Uttar Pradesh director general of police Javeed Ahmed said Rambriksh Yadav’s associates identified him among the 11-odd charred bodies lying in Mathura’s Jawahar Bagh as the death toll in the incident rose to 27 people.
“Some of the dead in the Mathura operation identified. Rambriksh Yadav’s body
identified by associates. Family intimated for final confirmation,” Ahmed said.
Yadav, seen in photos as a small, graying man dressed in kurta and dhoti, headed the self-styled revolutionary group Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah.
Members of the little-known armed sect called themselves followers of freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and campaigned for a bizarre set of demands, including scrapping elections and the Indian currency.
They squatted in Jawahar Bagh for over two years, building a self-sustained unit inside the 280-acre government park, growing vegetables
and even devising their own justice system.
Police descended on the encroachers late on Thursday after a court ordered their removal. But the squatters —who had sophisticated arms with them — allegedly
opened fire on the force and killed two senior police officers, including the city superintendent of police.
This triggered clashes and rioting inside the park that left 27 people dead. The incident also sparked a political war-of-words with opposition BJP and Bahujan Samaj Party blaming the ruling Samajwadi Party for the incident.
Mathura superintendent of police (rural) Arun Kumar Singh said Yadav’s body was charred beyond recognition and identified on the basis of physical appearance and remnants.
“We have called the family members of Yadav to Mathura for a final confirmation. The police will also go for a DNA test of the body to make a final confirmation,” he said.
Police said in the rioting, Yadav’s hut caught fire due to a cylinder blast, killing all 11 people hiding inside, including the alleged mastermind.
Another 22 unidentified dead bodies believed to be of the squatters are in the mortuary because no family member has turned up to claim them 48 hours after the violence.
“Our first priority was to find out whether Rambriksh Yadav died in the clash or escaped. Now that his death has been confirmed, we have started the exercise to establish the identity of the remaining bodies,” said a police officer.
“We will take assistance of the members of the organisation to identify the remaining dead bodies as well.”
Meanwhile, forensic and bomb disposal squads began searching for clues and collected samples for tests from Jawahar Bagh on Saturday morning.