THREE DAYS after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered penal action against over two dozen government officials for their alleged role in illegally transferring the disputed land at Umbha village to individuals, which later led to the killing of 10 Gond tribals last month, Sonbhadra Superintendent of Police Prabhakar Chaudhary has ordered re-investigation into three cases that were lodged against the tribals last year allegedly on false charges made by the aides of village pradhan Yagya Dutt.
Dutt is the prime accused in the July 17 shooting over the disputed land that left 10 persons dead and several others injured. He along with 54 people have been arrested for the killings.
Earlier, Ghorawal police had filed chargesheets in the three cases, but no arrests were made.
SP Chaudhary has directed Ghorawal police to reinvestigate, adding that it was being done on the basis of directives issued by the state government.
The complainants had alleged that the villagers, who are members of Gond community, were forcibly ploughing land which Yagya Dutt and others had purchased or taken on a lease. In the three cases, a total 55 persons were made accused.
“We met senior police officers, including ADG, Varanasi Zone, last month and informed that three false cases were lodged against us by the pradhan and his associates. The officials promised to look into our matter,” said Ram Raj, who is an eyewitness to the July 17 killings and also an accused in the three cases.
ADG, Varanasi Zone, Braj Bhushan, could not be contacted for comment.
The first FIR against 25 Gond tillers was lodged on July 24 last year on a complaint filed by the pradhan’s nephew, Raj Kumar Singh. Kumar had alleged that 25 persons came on seven tractors and forcibly started farming on the land which he and the others had purchased. He further alleged that when he and other owners of the land, including Shiv Kumar Singh and Mamta Singh, tried to stop them, the accused started verbally abusing them and also threatened them.
On Kumar’s complaint, an FIR was registered under IPC sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 447 (criminal trespass).
On October 29, two more FIRs were lodged against the Gond tillers. The complainants were Raj Kumar Singh and one Sonu Kumar, a distant relative of the pradhan.
Sonu Kumar had alleged that Ram Raj and four others, armed with weapons, began ploughing the land which he had got on lease.
Another FIR, based on Raj Kumar Singh’s complaint, was filed by Ghorawal police against 25 villagers for same charges — assault or criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation, mischief causing damage etc.
Meanwhile, Sonbhadra police are yet to take a decision on ordering a reinvestigation into the complaint of a 31-year-old woman, who had alleged that the family members of the pradhan had assaulted her when she had gone to his house to get the caste certificate of her daughter on August 24 last year.
The woman, who belongs to the Gond community and did farming on a portion of the disputed land, has also demanded further investigation after the police filed a closure report.
A case was lodged against 11 members of Yagya Dutt’s family in December last year following court’s directives.
“In a meeting held recently, we had also raised the case of the woman and demanded further investigation into the case as police had earlier filed a closure report without conducting investigation. Police have assured us that they will look into the matter,” claimed a villager.
However, SP Chaudhary said the police were yet to take a decision on the matter.