The Superintendent of Police and Station House Officer who lost their lives in the Jawaharbagh operation here were hit by bullets in the first 10 minutes of “unprovoked” firing by the encroachers, officials said.
The anti-encroachment operation started around 5 pm and the strategy was to enter Jawaharbagh by scaling the wall on its eastern side, Uttar Pradesh Police officials said.
Jawaharbagh, spread over nearly 260 acres, is less than a kilometre away from the district magistrate’s office. It is bound by cantonment area, police lines, a prison and government quarters.
By the time the police force could move any closer to the five-feet-high wall fencing the land, the encroachers had started firing. Within seconds it was raining bullets and the encroachers had positioned themselves at the trees in the enclosed area.
“In the first 10 minutes, five police officials had sustained bullet injuries including the SP and the SHO,” a police officer said.
Meanwhile, the protesters resorted to grenade shelling and the police team had to move back, the officer said.
After the injured policemen were rushed to the hospital, the police force took over the terraces of the government quarters on eastern side of Jawaharbagh and started stone pelting, said eyewitnesses.
Once the firing stopped for a while, the police teams scaled the wall and entered Jawaharbagh premises. As the police and PAC personnel managed to enter the premises, the encroachers again started firing. This time, the police fired in retaliation as they went on making their way towards the hub where the encroachers had based themselves, police officials said.
Once the chase started, the encroachers allegedly began to set their tents on fire which was followed by a series of cooking gas cylinder blasts causing further damage. Meanwhile, the grenade attacks continued for some time till the police managed to take control of the entire situation and the entire operation ended by 7.30 pm, officials said.
But by then a new problem emerged -- the fire at the camps started spreading and the flakes of fire reached the colonies adjacent to the park area, eye witnesses said.
Soon the fire tenders were rushed to the spot to contain the fire. One house had reportedly caught fire but the flames were doused by the fire fighters.
By the time the operation came to an end, 24 lives, including SP Mukul Dwivedi, and SHO Santosh Yadav had lost their lives.
Among the 24 killed, the two policemen were shot dead and 11 were burnt to death due to cylinder blasts. The protesters had set on fire the huts where bombs, explosives and gas cylinders were stored, before retreating from the site.
In all, 22 rioters including a woman were killed.
Image: Family members of SP City Mukul Dwivedi who lost his life in Thursdays encroachers-police clash, mourn in Mathura. Photograph: PTI