Mathura,SHWETA DESAI : Underestimating the chances of violence while trying to `peacefully evacuate’ Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena members illegally occupying the public park, Jawahar Bagh, the police force did not foresee panic or the situation getting out of control. As the armed encroachers shot the first volley of attack, police personnel leading from the front fled in chaos even as their colleagues were grievously wounded. Further it appears, lack of emergency planning and absence of ambulances on the spot causing delay in transporting the wounded could have resulted in the death of two police officers.
A force of around 300 police personnel and administrative officers — another 1200 standing reserved— conducting a reconnaissance before undertaking the main operation a day later was quickly overpowered by the SBSS members some of whom were armed with guns, explosives and bricks. The atmosphere inside Jawahar Bagh was charged since a 10 meter part of the boundary wall on the rear side along the Mathura jail was broken earlier in the day by the JCB.
“We went inside with the intention to talk to the encroachers and ask them to voluntarily leave. But we had two fatal injuries in the first five minutes of the operation,” said SSP rural A K Singh who was leading the team from the right flank of the boundary wall while the left flank was controlled by SSP city Mukul Dwivedi.
Station head officer from Farah, Santosh Yadav was the first to be wounded with stones on his face and was shot at the bridge of his nose. As the crowd on the ground swell and began closing in through continuous assault of stones, a gunner armed with AK 47 rifle fell on the ground. No sooner he was retrieved Dwivedi too fell down in a scuffle and lost the helmet on his head. Within seconds, the crowd got hold of the senior police officer and dragged him as they hailed lathis on his head. Dwivedi was wearing a bullet proof jacket on the day, but the loss of helmet protecting his head proved fatal. His personal team including 6-8 armed humrahis and other police officers fled in panic.
No ambulance on recce day
There was no ambulance present at the spot as this was supposed to be a `recee’ and not a real operation. When Dwivedi and Yadav were freed from the clutches of the crowd their wounded bodies were kept on the side for at least 15 minutes, as the police personnel began to search and arrange for a vehicle that could take them to a hospital, witness at the spot said. The vehicles were at the main road which is a km away from the boundary wall and the alleys of government residential colony. They were finally taken to hospital in the car of a city magistrate. While Yadav was declared dead on arrival at the hospital, Dwivedi died a few hours later of brain hemorrhage.
Dwivedi’s brother Praful said he learned the same version confirmed to him by senior police officials who came to condole the family. “They cried and stared in silence when asked how they could leave a senior officer to die.
The cops had arms yet did not fire to disperse the crowd even when the crowd was brutally attacking Mukul on his head. Many just ran away saying sahab bhagdad machi thi.’’ The post mortem report states that Dwivedi died of skull injury and brain hemorrhage.
Describing the events the FIR filed on the Jawahar Bagh notes that, “the police made continuous warnings through loud speaker to stop firing even as Yadav, Dwivedi and 15 other rank officers received serious injuries after being hit by bullets, hand bombs, stones and bricks.’’
The Mathura police is questioning officers who abandoned their duty and fled.
Dwivedi who was promoted to the rank of SSP took charge in Mathura in February, often remarked to his colleagues and family on the oncoming evacuation drive, “Jawaharbagh meri jaan lekar rahega.’’ “And it really did,’’ says a mourning Praful.