What's the Mathura Mayhem all about
- Activists of the Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi had set up camp in Jawahar Bagh in 2014 and had since then refused to vacate the government land.
- They took over the orchards, residential complexes etc built on the 280-acre land and have destroyed state property worth lakhs over the last two years.
- Senior administration and police officials had held consultations on how to proceed with the operation. A public announcement was made asking protestors to vacate the land.
- Police encircled the perimeter of Jawahar Bagh to make a safe passage for protestors to come out who instead started firing at the cops.
- CM Akhilesh Yadav announces ex-gratia of Rs 20 lakhs to families of deceased officers.
- Opposition parties slam Akhilesh government for failing to maintain law and order.
At least 16 people were killed and over 40 injured during an anti-encroachment drive on a government land in Mathura district on Thursday.
Station Officer (Farah) Santosh Yadav has been confirmed dead. Several media reports claim Mathura SP (City) Mukul Dwivedi is also among those killed in the clashes.
Hari Ram Sharma, IG (Law & Order) informed that at least four police constables have been injured. Two have been admitted with bullet injuries while the other two were wounded during stone pelting.
As more reports pour in, the situation remains tense around the Jawahar Bagh area where clashes broke out on Thursday. Besides heavy deployment of police and para-military forces in and around Jawahar Bagh, three additional companies of police force have been rushed to the spot. Reinforcements have also been called in from Mainpuri.
According to ADG (Law & Order) Daljit Singh Chaudhary, all senior police officials including the police commissioner, IG & DIG are camping in the area.
Chaudhary also claimed the operation for eviction of Jawahar Bagh is now over and those responsible for the violence will not be spared.
How the trouble started
The violence broke out at around 5.30 pm on Thursday when DM Rajesh Kumar and SSP Dr Rakesh Kumar entered the main gate of Jawahar Bagh to persuade illegal occupants, believed to be the activists of a group called Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi, to vacate the area.
Earlier, the senior administration and police officials had held consultations on how to proceed with the operation.
A public announcement was made following the meeting, asking protestors to vacate the land. The police had then encircled the perimeter of Jawahar Bagh to make a safe passage for protestors to come out.
However, the occupants started firing from tree tops as soon as the police entered the gates of Jawahar Bagh.
SP Mukul Dwivedi and around half a dozen cops were injured in the gunfire and rushed to Niyati Hospital at around 6.30 pm. Dwivedi later succumbed to his injuries.
Chaos inside and outside
'Satyagrahis' set their own camps on fire inside Jawahar Bagh and hurled country-made bombs at the police. All the entrance points to the Jawahar Bagh were also set on fire. Soon, the sound of cylinder blasts could also be heard from inside and the entire area was engulfed in flames.
The police resorted to firing around 6.30 pm. Protestors allegedly used women as shields against the police and even dragged some police jawans to their side. The fate of these jawans is not yet known.
Within 15 minutes of the police firing, encroachers pleaded through loudspeakers asking the police to stop firing, claiming that several women, children and elderly persons have been injured.
The whole operation was over by 7 pm.
According to DM Rajesh Kumar, Ram Vraksha Yadav, leader of the activists, and the security officer of the group, Chandan Gaur, managed to flee the spot along with thousands of their supporters.
Police sources claim that the preparations for the operation were made well in advance considering Allahabad High Court's orders to vacate the Jawahar Bagh.
However, the Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) failed to get accurate information regarding the arms and ammunition possessed by the activists inside Jawahar Bagh.
The police as well as PAC jawans were manning the area throughout the day, yet, they failed to notice that 'satyagrahis' were gearing up for a showdown.
They had even deployed women armed with sticks on the perimeter to use them as a shields.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav expressed his condolences for the death of the two police officers and has announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 20 lakh for the families of the deceased.
Yadav also instructed senior police officials to nab those responsible for the violence without delay and ensure peace in Mathura. He assured that the guilty would not be spared and adequate security arrangements would be made in Mathura.
Meanwhile, BSP has condemned the attack on police personnel. Senior party leader Nasimuddin Siddiqui blamed the violence on anti-social elements alleging that criminals and mafia were ruling the state under the Akhilesh government.
Siddiqui also pointed out that not even a single riot had taken place during Mayawati's tenure as the chief minister.
BJP, on its part, has demanded strong action against those responsible for the violence. The party state spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak accused the state government of failing to maintain law & order. He alleged that the police has lost its authority under the present government.
The Congress has also criticised the government alleging the rule of 'jungleraj' in the state. Party state spokesperson Ashok Singh accused the state government of inciting riots for political gains.
Singh stated that the intelligence system has fully collapsed in the state and anti-social elements are making a mockery of the rule of law.
What was the controversy?
In 2014, over 2,000 activists of Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi and another small group Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena had asked for two-days' permission to hold a demonstration at Jawahar Bagh. The activists had moved there after being evacuated from Bareilly.
However, they didn't moved out of the area since and slowly took over the orchard, government offices as well as residential complexes built over the 280-acre government land.
Local administration alleged that these illegal occupants had caused a losses worth lakhs of rupees to the state exchequer by damaging public property. Dozens of cases had also been registered against them.
After repeated notices from the administration, the 'satyagrahis' had moved Allahabad High Court seeking permission to hold a protest at the Jawahar Bagh.
The court, however, dismissed their plea and slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 on them and ordered local authorities to vacate the land.
The protestors were served a 48-hour ultimatum on 15 April, but it lapsed without any action. On 25 May another attempt to reclaim the area was made but it failed.
The pressure on local administration was mounting. On 1 June several farmer unions along with BJP, RLD and AAP had announced a march to Mathura to get the land vacated.
Who are these 'satyagrahis'?
Both Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi and Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena are said to be the erstwhile believers of Baba Jai Gurudeo and claim to be true followers of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
These cult-like outfits have raised absurd demands like replacing the rupee with 'Azad Hind Fauj' currency, cancellation of election for president and prime minister and sale of 60 litres of diesel and 40 litres of petrol at Re 1 each.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen