Battles between followers and Indian police of a revolutionary sect have left at least 24 people dead after an operation to evict thousands of people from parkland officials said Friday.
Two police officers were among those killed in the overnight battles during a move to expel around 3,000 sect followers who had illegally occupied public land in the state of Uttar Pradesh for the last two years.
Other officials and police said they came under fire from members of the sect who hurled primitive explosive devices during the violence in the northern city of Mathura and also were armed with automatic weapons.
“They were firing at us from tree tops. Others attacking us with sticks and other weapons or were hurling rocks.
“Soon after the strike, we got supports and launched a counter attack on the camp and successfully cleared the area.”
“Twenty-two of their people have perished, out of which 11 have expired due to burn injuries. Among the dead is a woman,” he added.
Authorities also have recovered several dozen pistols and rifles as well as live ammunition rounds.
The operation was started after authorities acquired a court order to remove numerous tents and makeshift wooden structures from a 270-acre (109-hectare) garden of land the sect have been dwelling since late 2014.