Rookie policemen sent into Mathura park: U.P. official

NEW DELHI,VIJAITA SINGH:Around 200 newly inducted Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel were sent to conduct a “reconnaissance” of the Jawahar Bagh in Mathura, which had been encroached upon by members of an armed cult, on June 2, a senior government official told The Hindu. This was the first ever assignment for the PAC jawans even as 1,200 trained men waited at the barracks nearby, said the official.

The shops of a makeshift market, which were destroyed in the violence at Jawahar Bagh. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

As many as 29 persons, including two policemen, were killed in the violence that erupted when members of the cult attacked them. The PAC is the armed unit of the Uttar Pradesh police.

The official said the new recruits, most of them unarmed, were sent with some Rapid Action Forcepersonnel and the local police as the district administration only planned a “reconnaissance.”

It had no plans to evacuate the park the same day, which had been occupied by the members of ‘Swadhin Bharat Subhash Sena’.

According to a report sent by the U.P. government to Centre on June 3, the members of the outfit had held some persons “hostage” and prevented them from leaving the premises. The two-page report in Hindi, accessed by The Hindu, says the injuries and deaths were also due to clashes between members of the outfit and “agitated locals.” A senior government official explained that the locals were fed up with the illegal activities of the Swadhin Bharat outfit and when they saw the police crackdown, they also decided to launch an attack against them.

The report said: Upadraviyon ne jail parisar ke taraf se patthar, asla aur gas cylinderon se prahaar kiya [Troublemakers attacked the police personnel with stones, arms and gas cylinders from the jail side]. The park shares its boundary with the district jail.

The report also said that, in the melee, Superintendent of Police Mukul Dwivedi fell down, his helmet broke and he was seriously injured. Dwivedi later succumbed to injuries in hospital. An official said that after he fell down and his helmet cracked, one of the outfit members attacked him with a laathi (wooden stick) that resulted in serious head injuries.

The official also said there was no “intelligence failure” on the part of the district administration, and they were aware of the illegal arms in possession of the outfit.

The report said: “The first team was sent on June 2 to conduct a reconnaissance and devise a strategy for the evacuation. They were preparing the ground when gas cylinders and big stones were hurled at them.”