The massive violence occurred in Mathura claiming 24 lives, which includes an SP and SHO as police clashed with around 3, 000 members of a little-known group named Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena. The leaders have however fled and a massive 368 people have been arrested.
If the ‘Operation Jawahar Bagh’ was planned for a month as the district administration claims, why only 60 policemen were sent to face 3, 000 armed ‘satyagrahis’ is still a question. Forces from other parts of Uttar Pradesh were rushed to bring normalcy to the town where a large cache of ammunition was recovered from the members of Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi.
Ever since SBSS had settled in Mathura’s Jawahar Bagh in 2014, they had been preparing for battle, piling up arms, ammunition and crude bombs, its ranks swelling — all this, right under the nose of the district administration.
A quick glance of the area gives out that it is heavily protected. On one side of Jawahar Bagh is the office of the Mathura Superintendent of Police; on the other, the Tehsil office. Along the same road are offices of the district magistrate, the Mathura district court, the police control room, the reserve police line and Mathura Jail.
Many district administration officials and the local resident told Indian Express that the operation to evict the SBSS was an ill-conceived one, which disregarded the intelligence inputs and underestimated the strength of the Sena.
Over 23 notices were served to SBSS to evacuate the land. In the last 15 days alone, three operations were carried out to recce Jawahar Bagh. The group is believed to be members of Baba Jai Gurudev sect that had occupied the land on the pretext of ‘dharna’ for more than two years now. Their demands included ‘cancelling’ the election of President and Prime Minister of India, replacing existing currency with ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ currency and availability of 60 litres of diesel and 40 litres of petrol per month for a rupee.
For two years, local intelligence units and police were unable to enter the site and get details about SBSS leaders, including their chief Ram Vriksha Yadav from Ghazipur and his lieutenant, Chandan Bose, from Bihar.
Back in 2015, the then UP DGP A K Jain had intelligence reports about movement of criminal elements to Jawahar Bagh after the SBSS had occupied the land illegally. The reports also said illegal arms and ammunition were stored inside. Jain sought directions from higher-ups to initiate action but was asked to wait for a court order.
When contacted, A K Jain told media, “It was in early 2015 when I was briefed about Jawahar Bagh. I was told the situation was alarming as a large number of anti-social elements had gathered and stored a large number of illegal arms and ammunitions. It was then decided to wait for a court order to start the eviction drive.”
Intelligence reports also state that food grains were brought in trucks from Madhya Pradesh. They said that over 2,000 Sena members had built concrete structures inside and even experts were called from other states to prepare country-made pistols and bombs. All this was allowed to continue.
“No attempt was made to identify those who had encroached the land. Police lodged several FIRs against these protestors but many remained unidentified,” said Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, a senior lawyer, who had filed a PIL in the High Court to get Jawahar Bagh vacated.
“The police failed to act against these protesters even when dozens of complaints were filed against them by locals, police and administrative officials. They had power connections, water supply and all basic facilities. Who arranged these amenities?” he asked
Intelligence inputs had also said that several people from Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, who believed in running a parallel government, had gathered in Jawahar Bagh.
Former DGP Jain told media, “The operation should have been done early morning and senior officials should have been deputed at the spot. Central and paramilitary forces should have also been sent for such an operation.”