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24 Killed in India as Police Expel Protesters From Makeshift Camp

This Thursday, June 2, 2016 image made from video shows Indian policemen and paramilitary soldiers near the site of violent clashes in Mathura, India.

At least 24 people were killed in clashes late Thursday in northern India when police tried to evacuate a park illegally inhabited by thousands of sect members.

Two police officers were among those killed while attempting to expel around 3,000 followers of a semi-religious sect who had been illegally occupying the patch of land in the city of Mathura for two years.

Mathura, India.
Mathura, India.

Hundreds of members of the Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah group were arrested during the evacuation, which began after authorities won a court order to remove tents and makeshift wooden structures set up by the land occupiers.

The squatters responded to the evacuation with gunfire, some of them shooting from treetops. Hand grenades were also thrown, according to local media.

"The culprits will not be spared at any cost. The police had gone there to vacate land following court orders,'' said Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The occupants were reportedly demanding lower gas prices and the "cancellation" of the election of various members of government. On social media, group members describe themselves as political revolutionaries inspired by Subhas Chandra Bose, an independence leader who went missing in a military operation in 1945.