A mysterious cult at the centre of deadly clashes in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, was running its own pseudo-government, army, court and a prison where torture was the norm, a senior police officer said.
Some 3,000 followers of the sect clashed with police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh during an eviction operation, leaving 29 people dead, including two senior officers.
The death toll in the clashes between the police and encroachers of Jawahar Bagh has risen to 29 with two more persons succumbing to their injuries even as police registered 45 cases against the occupants.
An unidentified encroacher died during treatment in the district hospital here and one Pinakoo, resident of Azamgarh, succumbed to his injuries in SN Medical College in Agra, taking the death toll to 29, Chief Medical Officer Vivek Mishra said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Rakesh Singh said 45 cases have been registered against the encroachers in which 3000 persons have made the accused.
Operations in Jawahar Bagh would continue till Monday in search of explosives and weapons, he said.
The secretive sect had occupied a 270-acre (109-hectare) stretch of parkland since late 2014, with the site almost entirely closed off to the outside world, the top police inspector general of the region said.
“They set up a township of sorts with all kinds of people. Gradually, they started running a self-government,” D.C. Mishra said, after officers seized documents and other evidence from the camp.
“They set up a court which pronounced punishments and jail barracks where inmates were tortured.”
“Children as young as eight years old were being given training in arms.”
Police in the city of Mathura came under fire overnight Thursday from members of the sect, who were armed with automatic weapons and hurled crude explosive devices during the violence.
Mishra said the cult was being run by self-styled Hindu godmen whose aim was to drive followers towards a kind of “religious terrorism”.
“They were also planning to come out with their own currency soon and they did not believe in the Indian constitution,” he said.
On Saturday, the state police chief said Ram Vraksha Yadav, one of the key leaders of the Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah sect, had died during the clashes Thursday.
“Yadav’s body identified by associates. Family intimated for final confirmation,” Javeed Ahmed tweeted.