Mathura, Jun 3: The temple town of Mathura was today on edge after massive violence claimed 24 lives, including an SP and SHO, as police clashed with about 3,000 members of a little-known sect whose leaders have fled while 368 people have been arrested.
An uneasy calm prevailed today as forces from other parts of Uttar Pradesh were rushed to bring normalcy to the town where a large cache of ammunition was recovered from the members of Äzad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi", an outfit claiming to owe allegience to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, in Jawahar Bagh area.
The clashes took place when police went to evict the members of the sect, which has made outlandish demands for the removal of the President and Prime Minister and replacing of the Indian currency, from a 260-acre government land encroached by them.
The police action followed Allahabad High Court orders. Mukul Dwivedi, Superintendent of Police and Santosh Yadav, Station House officer, Farah, were killed in the violence that also claimed the lives of 22 members of the sect.
Among the 24 killed, the two policemen were shot dead and 11 were burnt to death due to cylinder blasts.
The encroachers had set on fire the huts where bombs, explosives and gas cylinders were stored, before retreating from the site, he said.
In all, 22 rioters including a woman were killed. Ahmed said there was "unprovoked" firing by the encroachers who pelted stones and attacked the policemen with lathis as they arrived at the site for a recce to carry out the eviction, leading to the death of two police officials.
The violence led to political sparring with BJP, Congress and others attacking the government headed by Samajwadi Party while Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ordered a probe by Divisional Commissioner of Mathura into the violence.
The Centre sought a report from the state governemnt while Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Yadav and extended all support.
However, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju attacked the state government saying there were some lapse.
"The leaders of the sect Ram Vraksha Yadav, Chandan Gaur, Rakesh Gupta and others will be booked under the NSA Act," UP DGP Javed Ahmed told a press conference here.