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Day after clash, huge arms cache seized in Mathura

Bomb squad personnel coming out after inspecting the Jawahar Bagh site in Mathura on Friday, a day after police-encroachers clash. Photo: PTI   | Photo Credit: PTI

The toll in the Mathura violence climbed to 24 on Friday even as the Uttar Pradesh police arrested 368 people, including 58 on the charge of murder, and recovered a huge cache of arms from the 270-acre Jawahar Bagh, which had been illegally encroached upon for the past two years.

The State government suspended Mathura District Magistrate Rajesh Kumar and Senior Superintendent of Police Rakesh Kumar on Friday evening.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav admitted that administrative misjudgement could be behind the “grave incident.”

He announced Rs. 20 lakh compensation to the families of SP (City) Mukul Dwivedi and SHO Santosh Yadav who died in the eviction drive on Thursday.

Jawahar Bagh witnessed pitched battles between the police and scores of members of the Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi, or Swadhin Bharat, an outfit that claims allegiance to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

District officials said the police had initially gone to Jawahar Bagh only to recce the park and not to evict the encroachers.

The encroachers had built tents and huts on the land belonging to the U.P. Horticulture Department and had even damaged property inside.

When the police team arrived at the site, they were confronted by hundreds of women armed with lathis while men carrying illegal arms stood behind.

‘Encroachers opened fire’

“When we reached the spot around 5.00 p.m., there was no reason for us to expect such a violent reaction,” a policeman said.

“But the moment a bulldozer tried to break one side of the wall, the encroachers started firing and throwing stones. We were taken by complete surprise. It looked as if they were all ready to attack us. It was because of this sudden attack that we lost two brave senior police officers,” he said.

‘1,000 LPG cylinders used to set off blasts’

Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Javeed Ahmed said on Friday that the violent reaction by encroachers at Jawahar Bagh was entirely unprovoked. He said shots were fired from tree tops while those on the ground attacked the police with lathis and bricks.

Intelligence officials said police teams had gone to Jawahar Bagh in the past too to inspect the area but they never encountered any violence.

After the initial setback, Mr. Ahmed said, the police teams regrouped and reorganised themselves and in the next one-and-a-half hours vacated the entire compound.

“While the miscreants were fleeing the spot, some of them set fire to gas cylinders, ammunition and gunpowder,” Mr. Ahmed said.

Additional Director General of Police Daljeet Singh Chaudhary said the encroachers had illegally accumulated nearly 1,000 LPG cylinders which were set on fire to cause explosions. Eleven persons died in the cylinder blasts, he said.

Mr. Ahmed said 47 countrymade pistols, 184 cartridges and 178 hand grenades were recovered from the park. He said the police were preparing to book the leaders of the protesters under the National Security Act.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called up Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to take stock of the situation and “assured him of all help from the Centre.”

PTI adds:

CM admits to ‘some lapses’

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav admitted that there were “some lapses” on the part of administration and intelligence network that led to Mathura incident.

“There were some lapses. Police should have gone with full preparation and after holding talks, but there was no information that they would be having so much (arms and ammunition,” Mr. Yadav told reporters here. He said DGP, ADG and Principal Secretary (Home) were camping there to restore normalcy. Mr. Yadav said the so-called ‘satyagrahis’ were encroaching upon government land and though several rounds of talks were held , they did not vacate the place.

Rahul attacks Akhilesh govt.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday mounted an attack on the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh over the violence in Mathura, saying it was a stark reminder of the “deteriorating” law and order situation in the State.

“Unabated violence is a stark reminder of the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh,” Mr. Gandhi said on Twitter. He hoped that the government ensured that peace was restored and the guilty were punished.

Twenty-four people, including an SP and an SHO, were killed in Thursday’s massive clash between the police and members of a sect who had encroached on government land in Mathura.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 3:31:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Day-after-clash-huge-arms-cache-seized-in-Mathura/article14382610.ece

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