The Sonbhadra police have given clean chit to 10 of the 61 accused arrested in connection with the killing of 11 villagers in a firing at Umbha village over a land dispute on July 17 this year.
The police claimed that during their investigation they found the 10 persons were named by the main accused — village pradhan Yagyadutt — and his aides during interrogation, but none of them were present at the spot of the firing incident or had any links with the culprits.
The police will now submit a report to the court about these 10 persons, mostly students and residents of Umbha village, requesting for their release from jail.
“During the course of the investigation, we came to know that the 10 persons whose names were included in the case later were wrongly arrested and no evidence was found against them,” said Superintendent of Police, Sonbhadra, Prabhakar Chaudhary.
The SP added that these 10 persons were arrested on the basis of the statement of other accused and were not named by the relatives of the victims.
Meanwhile, police have also completed the investigation in connection with the killings against the 51 jailed accused, including Yagyadutt. An officer, who was part of the investigation, said the chargesheet against the accused was likely to be filed in a few days. Among other charges mentioned in the FIR, including murder and rioting, police have also invoked criminal conspiracy against the accused.
The police also have clubbed an FIR recently registered against the villagers on a complaint of the sister-in-law of Yagyadutt following court’s directive. The FIR was lodged against 55 named and 30 unidentified locals last week alleging the accused – all belonging to the tribal Gond community – of Umbha village had attacked her family members, when they had gone to do farming on the disputed land on July 17. The complainant, Devkali’s husband Nidhidutt is elder brother of Yagyadutt. Nidhidutt, Yagyadutt and their youngest brother Devdutt are lodged in Sonbhadra jail along with others. Nidhidutt and Devdutt had also got injured during the clash.
“We have clubbed the FIR filed by Devkali with the FIRs lodged related to the firing and the killings. We clubbed both the FIRs because the incident is the same,” said SP.
The police have also decided to file a fresh report into three cases lodged at Ghorawal police station last year against the villagers on complaints of Yagyadutt’s aides. Police then had filed chargesheets in all these cases without making any arrest. Complainants in these cases had accused the villagers of forcibly ploughing the disputed land. In these cases, total 55 villagers were named. Most of the accused were common in all three cases. The trial of the cases were yet to start.
The police had started further investigation seeking court’s permission after July 17 incident when the villagers told the senior officers that they were booked on false charges in three cases by Yagyadutt’s aides.
SP Prabhakar Chaudhary said, “During the further investigation of these cases, we recorded statement of local residents and checked government records. No evidence of any offence was found against the villagers booked in the cases. The land was found in the possession of the villagers only.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines