Free Press Journal

Mathura remains tense as political parties wade in


Mathura: Even as blame game continued over the violence in Mathura in which 24 persons were killed on Thursday, political parties waded into the troubled region to take stock of the situation and score a point over their rivals. As the media focus shifted from police failure and inept handling of the crisis at Jawahar Bagh to the role of politicians of the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders staged a ‘dharna’ at the Collectorate here on Saturday afternoon.

Local BJP MP Hema Malini, who met the parents of the deceased police officials in the morning, joined the demonstration and demanded Rs 1 crore each for the two police officials, and a thorough probe into the whole incident. Unofficial sources said the state government has raised the compensation from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 50 lakh each for the dependants of two police officers who were killed during the violence.

The BJP has announced that it will hold protest marches and meetings all over Uttar Pradesh on Monday. A delegation of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from Delhi also arrived in the city to take stock of the situation.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Saturday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry into the Mathura violence. “This incident clearly shows a very serious lapse on the part of the central and state intelligence. It is equally perplexing that this police action was a consequence of a directive by the judiciary and not on the basis of any information of our security apparatus,” the CPI-M politburo said in a statement.

Amid all this, the situation here continues to remain grim. The administrative work has come to a grinding halt as everyone is talking of transfers of senior officials.

An inquiry into the incident will now be conducted by Aligarh Divisional Commissioner Chandrakant.

According to police, 24 persons had died in the violence. Most of those who died are yet to be identified, and the police plans to cremate the dead bodies on Sunday. Over hundred people are now being treated at hospitals in Agra and Mathura.

“The number of deaths will remain a huge mystery. We were told there were 3,000 squatters who had encroached upon the government land. The police should come clean on how many people survived, how many are in the hospitals and how many have been arrested,” said local activist Manoj Choudhary of the Braj Bachao Samiti, which has been demanding a CBI probe. “The picture remains hazy about the arrest or death of the cult’s chief Ram Briksh Yadav,” Chaudhary added.

Meanwhile MP Hema Malini, who represents Mathura in the Lok Sabha, has lashed out at media reports and people who criticised her over posting images from a film’s shoot on social media while Mathura was engulfed by violence. She said that being a “sincere” person, she was doing her job and that people were “diverting attention from the main issue”.

Hema took to Twitter on Saturday to clarify her stance. In a series of tweets, she wrote: “In Mathura and condoled with the bereaved families. I still can’t understand how the great media thinks the sansad (parliament) is responsible for law and order.” Meanwhile, the local residents are venting their anger at the way police “mishandled the situation under political pressure”.

“First they gave them a long rope, even sheltered them obviously under instructions from political bosses in Lucknow despite the High Court’s order to get these people evicted from the government land. The police took so long to act that when the time came for execution they entered a war zone without intelligence inputs and adequate preparation,” said local BJP activist Dharmendra.

What came as a total shock was the recovery of a huge cache of arms and ammunition — from rifles to bombs, big luxury cars and mobikes. Questions are now being raised as to who were financing and providing ration for such a huge congregation of squatters for more than two years, and under whose instruction they were provided power and water connections.

Residents here want to know who shielded the cult leaders. In the face of such criticisms, the leaders of the ruling Samajwadi Party in Mathura and Agra are tight-lipped.