UP govt says Mathura rioters were from Bihar, MP

INDIA-UNREST-SECT Clashes between police and followers of a revolutionary sect have left at least 23 people dead after an operation to evict thousands of people from parkland erupted into violence | AFP

In an attempt to downplay the Mathura incident, the ruling Samajwadi Party on Friday asserted that the rioters involved in the violence were "outsiders" who had gathered at a park on the state government land for a protest.

"They were not local people. They had come from neighbouring states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh and had gathered at the park belonging to the state government. They were given permission to hold a peaceful protest for just two days," Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department Minister Shivpal Yadav said at a press conference.

He asserted that the protesters had refused to vacate state government land, despite repeated pleas and warnings from the administration for three years.

Yadav asserted that the administration had cut off the water and power supply to the Jawaharbagh park in order to uproot the protesters.

"If anyone from the police or the local administration is found guilty of not discharging his duty, he will be held accountable and will be punished," Yadav said.

Thursday's violence saw 22 protesters and two police officers killed in the clash.

Police has recovered a hoard of ammunition and weaponry from the protest site.

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