The writing on the wall was clear. But the Uttar Pradesh government and the police top brass failed to read the signs. Till two of their officers lay dead in a few hours of mayhem unleashed by a sect whose ideals bordered on the bizarre.
The violence in Mathura on Thursday may have been unprecedented in its scale but police had enough indications and subsequently even proof of the arms build-up by the cult members encroaching on hundreds of acres of government land.
Officials and local residents HT spoke to on Friday said the sect members had indulged in largescale violence earlier too, torching vehicles and attacking officials.
An official in Mathura said the local cops had inputs about the protestors chalking out plans to thwart any attempt to evict them. It included sacrificing lives of some of their group members.
Locals were demanding their evacuation as the nuisance created by the encroachers kept growing every day.They had beaten up police inspector Kunwar Pal Singh Yadav a few months ago. The sect members had also engaged in a brawl with lawyers and employees of the horticulture department, who had their residential area near the camp.
The sect members brazenly wrote their demands on the outer walls of the district magistrate’s residence. They said they will soon form a parallel government.
Most residents cannot believe how the Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena, believed to be the armed wing of the sect, was allowed to run their operations.
“Last year, when the city magistrate tried to enter the park, he was stopped at the main gate. He was told to sit on the ground by one leader who asked the city magistrate about his nationality. Minutes later, he fled for his life,” said Pradip Yadav, a resident.
About a year ago the police had done a recce of Jawahar Bagh camps with the help of some local journalists, who had easy access to this area.
A police official said journalists provided photographs of arms and ammunition and underground bunkers inside the camps. They had even created ‘machans’ on the treetops to keep watch on the movement outside the camps, he added.
On Thursday, the protesters allegedly fired and pelted stones on police from treetops. The ‘machans’ suddenly turned deadly.