Mathura clash toll mounts to 29; combing operations still on

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday dared the Uttar Pradesh government to recommend a CBI probe into the Mathura incident.

PTI| Updated: Jun 06, 2016, 00:46 AM IST
PlayMathura clash toll mounts to 29; combing operations still on

 Mathura/Amroha: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday dared the Uttar Pradesh government to recommend a CBI probe into the Mathura incident as the death toll from Thursday's clashes between encroachers and police at Jawahar Bagh rose to 29 with two more persons succumbing to injuries.

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.

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.

The Akhilesh Yadav government came under fresh fire over the incident, with Singh alleging law and order had collapsed in the state and asking it to write to the Centre to institute a CBI probe.

"There is more to it than meets the eye. What does not meet the eye needs to be revealed. If you really want to get to the bottom of it, you should write to the Centre seeking a CBI probe. If UP government recommends a CBI probe we will surely accept it. It is not an ordinary incident," Singh told a rally in Amroha.

Targeting the government, Singh wondered how 3000 people occupied a government land for two years and "they could not see it".

He said being the Union Home Minister he cannot interfere in the law and order of the state "otherwise such an incident would not have happened".

Aligarh Divisional Commissioner Chandra Kant, meanwhile, launched a probe to ascertain the circumstances leading to the incident, which has left the Samajwadi Party government 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.

A veritable armoury was recovered from the township the cult had established at the park following the clashes.

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.