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24 die as squatters' camp in India park burns

By
Ed Adamczyk
A squatters' encampment in a Mathura, India, public park burns after police expelled the political and religious sect illegally occupying it. At least 24 people, including two police officers, died in the incident, including 11 who perished in the fire. Screenshot from YouTube
A squatters' encampment in a Mathura, India, public park burns after police expelled the political and religious sect illegally occupying it. At least 24 people, including two police officers, died in the incident, including 11 who perished in the fire. Screenshot from YouTube

MATHURA , India, June 3 (UPI) -- At least 24 people died when police attempted to evict about 3,000 squatters from a Mathura, India, public park. Two police officers were among the dead.

Police moved in after obtaining a court order to evict the group, members of an obscure religious sect with radical political demands, to remove tents and makeshift residences. The squatters responded with gunfire and stone throwing, and local media reported hand grenades were thrown.

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Javed Ahmed, the state police chief, said 11 died when a cylinder of cooking gas exploded during the clash, starting a fire that destroyed much of the encampment.

Members of the Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi, or Free India Legal Ideas Revolutionary Protesters, have occupied Mathura's Jawahar Bagh park for two years. Originally a religious movement, it became a self-described revolutionary cause after the 2012 death of its leader.

The group now says it is inspired by Subhas Chandra Bose, a hero of India's independence movement who is believed to have been killed in a plane crash in 1945. It has demanded that India's parliament and executive government be declared unconstitutional, as well as a demand that fuel oil and gasoline be sold at near-free prices.

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