Twenty-four people, including a superintendent of police (SP) and a station house officer (SHO), were killed in a massive clash between police and members of a sect who had encroached on government land in Mathura, even as tension prevailed in the area with police seizing a large cache of munition from the site and arresting over 370 people.
Here are the 10 key facts about the Mathura clashes:
1. Police efforts to evict thousands of people squatting in a makeshift protest camp in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura district ended in bloodshed as people opened fire from treetops and police retaliated, leaving at least 24 dead.
2. More than 370 people have been arrested for their alleged role in the violence, during which gas cylinders being used by the protesters for cooking exploded and ignited a fire that killed 11 people, according to a top state police officer, Daljit Chaudhary.
3. The victims included two officers who were gunned down when the violence began. More than 100 people, including 23 police officers, were also injured in the melee.
4. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has ordered a probe into the violence at Jawahar Bagh where nearly 3,000 people had illegally set up a camp on a 280-acre plot since last two years.
5. The Centre sought a report from the Uttar Pradesh government while Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Yadav and assured the state government of all necessary help.
6. According to the state’s director general of police Javeed Ahmed, there was “unprovoked” firing by encroachers who pelted stones and attacked the policemen with lathis as they arrived at the site for a recce to carry out the eviction.
7. The police teams reorganised themselves. After two shelters were vacated, the protesters set afire gas cylinders and munition stored there which led to several explosions.
8. The cops have recovered 47 guns, six rifles and 178 hand grenades from the area.
9. The standoff had been building for nearly two years, during which thousands had occupied the 280-acre patch of government land while demanding that officials build public facilities and sell petrol at heavily discounted prices. Over time, the protest camp grew with tents and cooking gear, with thousands of men, women and children using it as a makeshift home.
10. In April, the high court in Allahabad ordered the occupiers to leave. When they refused, police obtained a court order for eviction and on Thursday sent a group of officers to the area to see if the squatters had left.