Twenty two people, including two policemen, have been reported dead after clashes broke out in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday. Director General of Police Javed Ahmed said 11 protesters died in the fire they had caused, ANI reported. So far, 124 people have been arrested, and 23 policemen are being treated for injuries, he added. Police also seized 47 locally-made 'katta' pistols, six rifles and 178 live cartridges.
The violence was triggered by the police trying to evict around 2,000 illegal occupants from a piece of land in Jawahar Bagh. The occupants were reportedly members of a sect called Swadheen Bharat Vidhik Satyagrahi. Station Officer of Farah Santosh Yadav and Superintendent of Police (City) Mathura Mukul Dwivedi were the policemen reported dead in the violence.
Police had tried to clear the area following an Allahabad High Court ruling, which ordered for several acres to be reclaimed from the group, The Indian Express reported. Members of the sect have allegedly been camping out at the space for around two-and-a-half years. The district administration had given protestors an ultimatum to vacate the premises on April 15, the report said, adding that they had unsuccessfully attempted to evict them from the area on May 25.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has ordered an investigation into the violence. Home Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke to Yadav on Friday and assured him of the Centre's help in the case. The Centre has also asked the Uttar Pradesh government for a report on the incident.
Actor and Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Mathura, Hema Malini, was criticised for posting pictures of her movie shoot on Twitter, reported PTI. She later deleted the pictures and wrote, "I just came back from Mathura and got the news of the violence that has taken place there in which policemen have lost their lives. So so upset by this news from a place which is so dear to me. Will go there again if my presence is required. My heart goes out to the bereaved."