09:27 GMT +319 September 2019
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    Indian police detain an activist during a protest

    Violent Clash Over Cult Clearance Leaves 24 Dead in India’s Uttar Pradesh

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    Two policemen were among the 24 people who were killed in an attempt to evict members of the Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah cult from a public park in northern India’s holy town of Mathura.

    Nobody, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, expected that a police crackdown on cult-crazed squatters in Jawahar Park in the revered town of Mathura would be met with violence.

    Upholding a court order, about 1,000 police personnel launched a clearance operation at the 26-acre park, but only invoked the wrath of the protesters. 

    The police were pelted with stones and home-made grenades. Police have also seized several other weapons such as knives, swords, and guns. The security personnel were forced to open fire on the uncontrollable defenders of the sect, leaving at least 22 of them dead. The cultists claim to be true followers of Indian independence leader Subash Chandra Bose. 

    The protesters occupied the park in late 2014 and a court has ordered the government to clear the area only recently.

    Local reports suggest followers of the group's late spiritual leader or 'godman', Baba jai Gurudev, have been linked the episode. Gurudev owned opulent residences and other facilities in the northern Indian state.

    The federal administration urged the local government authorities to take stringent action against the perpetrators. 

    Amid the violence, the administration admitted that they had underestimated the strength of the park's occupants and said the police forces were taken by surprise.

    Meanwhile, the Twitterati vented their fury on actress Hema Malini, who is the Member of Parliament from the Mathura constituency, for posting images from a film-shoot while there was violence.

    Here’s a list of social media posts which heap scorn on the parliamentarian. 

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