Tension continued to prevail in Mathura’s Jawaharbagh area on Friday, a day after the four-hour-long gunfight between cops and followers of a semi-religious cult, that left 24 dead, including two Uttar Pradesh (UP) police officers.The area remained ripe with rumours, with local people telling dna that the actual number of those killed in the gun fight might be more than 50, an allegation denied by the police officers deputed in the area.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over 350 people, including scores of members of the religious cult, Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah (SBVS), were arrested by the police soon after the gun fight ended late on Thursday evening after the first shots were fired at around 5 pm.The early signs of trouble were seen in March 2014, when followers of godman Jai Guru Dev marched from Madhya Pradesh to New Delhi, to pressurise the Centre to meet their demands.The march was halted at Jawaharbagh, where it took shape of a full blown movement, resulting in the formation of several splinter groups such as the Swadeen Bharat Vidhik and Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena, which are said to be a part of a movement called Swadheen Bharat or Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi. Those in the movement claim to be followers of freedom fighter Subash Chandra Bose.One of their main demands that all the documents related to Netaji be made public. Other demands included cancellation of elections of the President and the Prime Minister, selling of petrol and diesel at lower prices, changing Indian currency from rupee to Azad Hind currency, abolition of elections and so on.The current spate of violence erupted after the UP administration launched a ‘rehearsal eviction’ a day before the actual eviction was supposed to take place.The operation was launched after Allahabad high court ordered removal of hundreds of tents and makeshift wooden structures from the plot, which comes to around 300 acres.As soon as police began to break the boundary walls to make space for water pipes of fire tenders, local people say, the first bullet was fired.”I sent my daughter and wife away as soon as I heard firing. The next few hours were hell. Firing did not stop for a minute,” said Kamal Kanth, a resident of Jawaharbagh colony, which is adjacent to the occupied plot.A local cop, who was present at the spot, said, “The first bullet was fired towards SSP Rakesh, but it missed him and hit the ground. SHO Santosh, who tried to push the SSP to safety, was hit in his eye by the second bullet.”According to residents, sometime after the first death, SP city too got injured in action and later succumbed. The next four hours witnessed heavy firing from both sides with scores of people on both sides sustaining injuries. Five police officers are said to be seriously injured while more than a dozen have sustained minor injuries. The total number of injured is yet to be ascertained.Following the police action, 350 people are said to be taken into custody, while the injured are being treated in various hospitals across Mathura. Police said that it recovered 47 country-made pistols, thirteen .315 rifles and half a dozen pistols with 178 live cartridges.Back at Jawaharbagh, what remained was charred belongings of those who had been occupying the area for over two years.While no official seemed to be sure of the exact number of people who had been living there, authorities here say that somewhere between 2,000-4,000 people had been staying in Jawaharbagh since 2014.Madan Gopal, a lawyer and a resident of the area, claimed that the situation could have been avoided had the local government not ‘supported’ the alleged encroachers.”Relatives of senior leaders of the ruling party were bhakts of Gurudev. They are to blame for shielding these who call them themselves as satyagrahis,” Gopal said. Interestingly, one of their Facebook posts seem to be in support of Nathuram Godse.While Rakesh Pandit called the followers naxals, another local named Suleman said that they had established a country within.”They used to sell mangoes for Rs 20 a kilo and sugar at Rs 13. They would even check ID cards if we wanted to enter the area,” he said.


Mathura death toll 24 & counting, locals say cops fudging numbers