Uneasy calm prevailed in areas around Jawahar Bagh in Mathura a day after violent clashes between police and members of a sect claimed 24 lives as a large posse of police and paramilitary personnel kept strict vigil forcing locals to stay indoors.
Jawahar Bagh, which had been teemed with thousands of encroachers who set up their tents for a couple years, wore an eerie silence as policemen blocked its only entry point, through which thousands of protesters had fled last night. Neighbourhood resident Kaptan Singh who was employed at the office of Mathura District Magistrate, said “Around 4.30 pm on Thursday , a huge posse of police and PAC personnel had gathered outside Jawaharbagh to remove the encroachers. SP City Mukul Dwivedi was last heard announcing to the encroachers to leave the land urging them to cooperate with the administration and police.”
While the police force was getting ready for the anti- encroachment operation, firing started from the walled Jawahar Bagh, he claimed.
“It was like a rain of bullets and we locked ourselves inside our house and remained there till the deafening noise of the guns silenced,” said local shopkeeper Rajender.
“When we came out of our house around 5.30 pm, we saw policemen running frantically towards the main road. In a few minutes we realised that the Station Officer (Fara) was shot dead and the SP City had also sustained bullet injury. The two of them along with three others were being rushed to hospital,” he said.
On Friday, over 200 police officers from Mathura and nearby districts including Agra, Badayun, Muradabad, were deployed in the area to ensure that no law-and-order problem arose in the wake of the violence.
A huge posse of media persons also camped in the area and locals thronged the site interacting with them and sharing their experiences.
Farther away from Jawaharbagh, Mathura city retained its normal daily routine with people talking about the incident and expressing their shock over it.
Another local Brij Mohan Sharma said the protesters had set hundreds of camps on fire and the entire sky was lit up with a crimson tinge.
“The locals were terrified and started filling up buckets with water for a potential fire operation,” Sharma said.
Blame game continues
Akhilesh Yadav ordered a commissioner-level inquiry into the violence while the Centre sought a report from the Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday’s violence in Mathura, over 160 km from the national capital. Over 300 people were arrested in the violence that also left 23 policemen injured, including many seriously.
“This is a serious matter and will be investigated at commissioner level. All those found guilty will be brought to justice,” Akhilesh Yadav told reporters.