Police officers among 21 killed in India clash

03 June,2016

RTNN News Desk: 21 people have been killed in clashes which erupted when Indian police moved to evict members of a sect from land they had been illegally occupying for the last two years, an officer said on Friday.

Two police officers were among those killed in the violence which erupted late Thursday during an operation to expel around 3,000 followers of the sect who were camped out in a park in the northern city of Mathura.

‘We had gone to clear the area but were fired upon by the miscreants. Two of our men died,’ Hari Ram Sharma, a senior police officer, told AFP from Lucknow, the capital of the Uttar Pradesh state.

Sharma said that the police then responded with live fire and that 13 activists had been killed in the shooting.

More than 1,000 followers of the group known as Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah have been arrested, Sharma added. The area has now been sealed off and the situation was tense but under control.

The clearance operation was launched after authorities won a court order to remove hundreds of tents and makeshift wooden structures from a 270-acre (109-hectare) patch of land which the sect had been occupying since late 2014.

In postings on social media, Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah’s followers describe themselves as political and social revolutionaries. Their demands include the abolition of elections and cheaper fuel for everyone.

India is home to hundreds of semi-religious sects which are often led by charismatic self-styled ‘godmen’.

In 2014 hundreds of armed supporters of another sect clashed with police in the northern state of Haryana during a raid to arrest their leader who was facing murder allegations. At least six people were killed in the violence.

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