Local police and district officers of Mathura had feared loss of lives and suggestions were even made to involve the Army in the operation to move out followers of the Netaji cult squatting on Jawahar Bagh, according to statements of video-conferencing held between top state officials in Lucknow and district officers on May 17 and 31 and released on Tuesday.
Faced with criticism from all quarters following last Thursday’s violence that left 29 people, including two police officers, dead, the Uttar Pradesh government released the two statements containing the essence of two video-conferencing. The move is seen as a way to shore up the government’s assertion that district officials were in the loop of developments at Jawahar Bagh, occupied by members of the cult and followers of Jai Gurudev since 2014.
The officials in Mathura were informed that “loss of lives cannot be denied in the operation” and “a suggestion was given to take help from Army, if needed”, according to the statement of May 17, when the first video-conference was held over the issue.
UP Principal Secretary (Home) Debasish Panda and state DGP S Javeed Ahmad were part of both video conferences, the statement says. It says then Mathura District Magistrate (DM) Rajesh Kumar — he has been subsequently transferred — had told the duo that nearly 2,000 men, between 700 and 800 women and 400 to 500 children were staying put at Jawahar Bagh.
The DM purportedly said that six companies of PAC and one women RAF company was required to remove the squatters, and was assured of cooperation by the DGP.
The next video conferencing was held on May 31 to check the progress made by officers of Mathura district and Agra division. Then SSP Rakesh Kumar Singh (since transferred out) informed that only 1,500 people were left at the site after electricity and water supply was discontinued. According to the statement issued, he informed that water was available only from one well inside Jawahar Bagh, and food supply was disturbed. He also said that eight companies of PAC had reached the site, the statement says.
Police went for recce, was attacked: report
A police team led by Additional Superintendent of Police Mukul Dwivedi had gone to conduct a recce at Jawahar Bagh following an intelligence input that licenced and illegal fire arms, explosive material and also cartridges used by police were stored by group that had encroached the land inside, the Uttar Pradesh government has said in the report it sent to the Union Home Ministry.
The report said that when the police team was busy in recce, rioters started pelting stones and opened fire on them.