24 dead in clashes as sect evicted in India
© AFP / by Jalees ANDRABI | Clashes between Indian police and followers of a revolutionary sect have left at least 24 people dead after an operation to evict thousands of people from parkland erupted into violence, officials said Friday
NEW DELHI (AFP) -Clashes between Indian police and followers of a revolutionary sect have left at least 24 people dead after an operation to evict thousands of people from parkland erupted into violence, officials said Friday.
Two police officers were among those killed in the overnight clashes during a move to expel around 3,000 sect followers who had illegally occupied public land in the city of Mathura for the last two years.
Police and other officials said they came under fire from armed members of the sect who positioned themselves on tree-tops and also hurled crude explosive devices at them.
“Twenty-three people, including two police officers, died in the clashes,” divisional commissioner Pradeep Bhatnagar, who is the top civilian official for the area, told AFP.
“Eighty are injured, including 30 policemen. Most of them have bullet wounds and are in critical condition.
“Twenty-one of the dead were extremists who attacked police and civil authorities with arms and bombs from inside the park.
“They were carrying automatic rifles and crude bombs and had fortified the area in a military style.”
A senior officer said police were forced to respond with live fire after two of their men were shot dead by followers of the sect, which is known as Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah.