NINE PERSONS, including three women, were shot dead and 24 others injured Wednesday in UP’s Sonbhadra district in a clash between two groups in Umbha village following a dispute over land that previously belonged to a trust linked to an IAS officer, police said.
Police said the clash broke out between Umbha residents, who claimed possession of the land, and another group led by the pradhan of a neighbouring village, who had bought the property from the trust two years ago.
“The pradhan, Yaghya Dutt, and his associates reached Umbha on a tractor-trolley and started farming activity on the land. The local farmers, who were on the land, protested. They were soon joined by other residents of the village. Heated arguments led to both groups throwing bricks at each other. Then, the firing took place,” said Braj Bhushan, ADG (Varanasi Zone).
Bhushan said 12 persons, including relatives of the pradhan, have been arrested. The dispute over the 90 bighas of land, about 3 km away from the village, was already pending in the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) court, he said.
“Local residents have been farming on the land over several years and were paying rent to a 12-member trust, which owned it. Around two years ago, two of the trustees, who are family members of an IAS officer, sold the land to the pradhan. Since the land was their only source of income, the local farmers said they were ready to pay rent to the pradhan. But he refused and wanted possession of the land,” Bhushan said.
ADG (Law and Order) P V Ramasastry said investigations have revealed that the firing was done by the pradhan and his associates. Among the 24 injured, five of them critical, are seven associates of the pradhan.
Umbha village is located near the Bihar border, around 370 km east of Lucknow, with the nearest police station at Ghorawal, 25 km away.
The UP government has directed ADG Bhushan and Divisional Commissioner (Mirzapur) to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit its report within 24 hours.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of each of those killed and directed the District Magistrate to submit a report on why land deeds were not given to residents.