A cache of arms and several spent bullets of AK-47 assault rifles were seized by police from the site of the deadly clashes in Mathura that left 21 people dead, including two senior police officers, late on Thursday.
Violence erupted during a police drive to evict about 3,000 people who had encroached into the Jawahar Bagh park. The squatters claimed to be true followers of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and belonged to a group stating the same.
City superintendent of police, Mukuk Dwivedi, and Farah police station officer, Santosh Yadav were among the dead while city magistrate Ram Araj Yadav was among the 100-odd injured in the agitation that lasted for almost four hours.
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According to the district magistrate Rajesh Kumar, the leader of the activists, Ram Vraksha Yadav, and the security officer of the group Chandan Gaur managed to flee along with thousands of supporters.
The activists used not only hand grenades but also opened fire from automatic weapons after taking position at tree tops, he further said.
Given the grenade and LPG cylinder explosions, the area was filled with smoke and several huts caught fire, Kumar said.
For two years, about 280 acres of the park had been occupied by the members of the Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi in a sit-in demonstration demanding the cancellation of the elections of the President and Prime Minister of India, replacing the existing currency with ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ currency and the sale of 60 litres of diesel and 40 litres of petrol for Rs 1, among others things.
Acting on a PIL, the Allahabad high court recently directed authorities to vacate the land.
Uttar Pradesh’s director general of police, Javed Ahmed, said that there was unprovoked firing from members of group when police attempted to remove them. He claimed that heavily armed men from the other side fired at the police and the latter had to resort to a baton charge, tear gas shelling and finally gun fire.
In light of the “tense” situation, Ahmed said reinforcements, including senior police officers, are being sent to the area.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav expressed his grief over the incident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 20 lakh to the family of the deceased policemen.
He directed the additional director General of Police (Law and Order) to rush to the spot with police reinforcements and bring the situation under control and arrest those guilty.
With inputs from agencies