At least 24 people has reportedly 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.
According to local media reports, hand grenades were thrown.
Javed Ahmed (the state police chief) said in a statement that 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.