'Police firing did not kill anyone in Bharatpur'



Jaipur: Claims and counter-claims over the violence in Rajasthan's Bharatpur district continued on Sunday as Chief Secretary Salauddin Ahmed said here that none of the eight killed was a victim of police firing.

"We have so far recovered eight bodies and none of them was killed in police firing," the chief secretary told reporters, adding that all victims have been identified.

Members of the Gujjar and Meo communities clashed in Bharatpur district Wednesday over a piece of land, one group claiming that it was for a burial centre and the other that it was for a pond.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot left for Delhi after he is believed to have been summoned by Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi over the violence.

Leaders of the Meo community to which all the victims belonged earlier claimed that the maximum casualties were in firing by police and not by the Gujjar community.

"Deaths in our community, we strongly feel, were due to the police firing," said a Meo, on condition of not being named.

The Rajasthan government Thursday evening ordered a committee headed by senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer VS Singh to probe the incident.

On Friday, the government announced a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the clash between the Gujjars and Meo communities that took place in Bharatpur's Gopalgarh village.

"Other factors related to the violence, including how it broke out and negligence if there was any, will be probed by the various committees set up by the government and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation)," said an officer.

He added that the superintendent of police, additional superintendent of police and district collector have been removed from Bharatpur.

Several Muslim groups at the national as well as the state level had protested against the alleged police atrocities on Muslims. Groups like Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, condemned the violence and demanded strict action against the officers and also members of the Gujjar community.

Union Minister of State for Home Bhanwar Jitendra Singh also visited Bharatpur Sunday to meet the families of victims.

Despite the minister's pleas, a deadlock continued over the autopsy of seven of the eight bodies. The families of the victims did not allow the post-mortem examinations to be conducted, demanding a case of homicide be registered against officials who ordered police firing.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has also ordered a committee headed by senior leader Digambar Singh to probe the incident.

The government has announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those killed.

IANS