Mathura clash toll goes up to 29, Aligarh Commissioner starts probe

Mathura clash toll goes up to 29, Aligarh Commissioner starts probe

Mathura clash toll goes up to 29, Aligarh Commissioner starts probe
The death toll from Thursday's clashes between encroachers of Jawahar Bagh and the police today rose to 29 with two more people succumbing to injuries even as the Aligarh Divisional Commissioner launched a probe into the incident.

Mathura Senior Superintendent of Police Rakesh Singh said 45 cases have been registered against 3000 encroachers belonging to a cult--Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi--an outfit that claimed to owe allegiance to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

An unidentified encroacher died during treatment in the district hospital here and one Pinkoo, a resident of Azamgarh, succumbed to his injuries in SN Medical College in Agra, taking the death toll to 29, Chief Medical Officer Vivek Mishra said.

Aligarh Divisional Commissioner Chandra Kant, meanwhile, launched a probe to ascertain the circumstances leading to the incident, which has left the Samajwadi Party government of Uttar Pradesh red faced and invited sharp criticism from the opposition.

Kant, who said he would go into the reasons for the incident and ascertain the likely lapses, said he would submit his report to the government within a fortnight.

The Divisional Commissioner, who met top district officials including DM Rajesh Kumar, SSP Rakesh Singh and other top officials, as part of the "recommendatory probe", said he would visit Jawahar Bagh, the scene of violent clashes which also left two police officers, including a Superintendent of police, dead, to record the statements of eyewitnesses and others.

"Why the incident took place, whether it was properly tackled, shortcomings in operation Jawahar Bagh, what was the level of shortcomings, whether firing orders were given late...any other points will be looked into," Kant told reporters.

Combing operations are underway to look for explosives and hidden weapons and would continue even tomorrow, SSP Rakesh Singh said, adding some more arrests were likely to track down people who provided financial support and firearms to Ram Vriksha Yadav, the cult leader, who was among those dead during the clashes. His body was found among 11 charred to death in the fire that was caused by gas cylinder explosions set off by the squatters who were occupying the public park for the last two years.

Bodies of ten encroachers, including two women, have been identified by their accomplices lodged in jail. Efforts are on to identify the other bodies, Singh said.

If relatives do not come forward to claim the bodies their postmortem would be carried out at 11 AM on Monday following which their last rites would be conducted, he said.

Meanwhile, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Union Minister and BJP MP from Fatehpur, has accused state's PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav of being responsible for the violence and demanded that a case be registered against him.

Seeking strict action against him, she alleged that the encroachers had the protection of Shivpal, younger brother of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, which is why no action was taken against them even after over two years of encroachment.

She alleged that the administration was not given permission to take strict action against the occupants and adequate police force was not deployed to evict them.

Another Union Minister Kalraj Mishra said," Killing a police officer is not an ordinary thing. That's why I say that administration has completely failed. There is anarchy under this administration."

BJP leaders claimed that they were not allowed entry into Jawahar Bagh. "We had an argument with the police that our high-power committee wants to go inside and see the system of kitchens, water etc which was in place there since the past two and a half years. But they are not letting us go inside," a local BJP leader said.

"For the last two years, more than 2000 people were creating an environment of anarchy. They were being given ration to eat and water to drink. There were air conditioners and arms inside. We ask how such anarchy was created," another BJP leader said.

A veritable armoury was recovered from the township the cult had established at the park. Five kg of sulphur, 2.5 kg of gun powder, one kg potash, 500 grams of small iron balls and an electronic plate were found during the search operation in Jawahar Bag yesterday. Besides, 47 country-made pistols, six rifles, 178 live cartridges, 15 four wheelers and 6 two-wheelers were also impounded from the site of the clashes.

The secretive cult had occupied nearly 300 acres of Jawahar Bagh and erected temporary dwellings for the followers.

They had set up their own administration, including courts and barracks, where inmates violating rules were pronounced guilty and punished, according to IG (Agra Zone) D C Mishra. The cult repudiated the Indian Constitution.
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