By Ahmad Adil
NEW DELHI (AA) - Two dozen people were killed, including two police officers, when violence erupted in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday after police attempted to evict illegal squatters.
According to local officials, the violence occurred when police arrived to evict illegal squatters -- believed to be members of a little-known religious sect -- in the Jawahar Bagh district of the city of Mathura.
In the melee that followed, 11 people died of burn injuries caused by the explosion of gas cylinders and another 11 were killed by baton-wielding police, Uttar Pradesh police chief Javed Ahmed told reporters.
According to Vipin Kumar Mishra, a spokesman for Uttar Pradesh’s home department, more than 200 arrests were made in the wake of the incident, into which the state government has since ordered an inquiry.
"The situation is now under control," Mishra told Anadolu Agency by phone, adding that more than 70 people, including police personnel, had been injured in the violence.
- Blame game
Meanwhile, a war of words has broken out between different political parties over the incident.
Vijay Bahadur Pathak, a spokesman for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh, blamed the Samajwadi Party for the incident.
"We demand an inquiry into the case so that everything comes out in public," he told Anadolu Agency.
"The political forces who stand behind it should also be exposed," he said.
The Samajwadi Party, for its part, which runs Uttar Pradesh’s state government, accused "communal forces" of trying to destabilize the local government.
"We lost people in this incident; it is very sad," Ranjana Bajpai, senior Samajwadi Party leader, told Anadolu Agency.
"But they were illegally squatting in the area... Since 2014, they had not vacated the area," she said.
The chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party, meanwhile, said the government should take responsibility for the "unfortunate and painful incident" and resign.