- An inquiry into the Sonbhadra massacre said local cops sided with accused
- Sonbhadra's District Magistrate, Superintendent of police were removed
- 10 people, including 3 women, were shot dead in the incident
Over two weeks after 10 people, including three women, were shot dead over a land dispute in Uttar Pradesh's Sonbhadra, the state government today removed top administrative and police officials from their posts. An inquiry report on the incident said local police deliberately delayed going to the village despite several urgent pleas from villagers over the shooting. Local police had also sided with the accused, the inquiry report submitted by the additional chief secretary (revenue), said.
A First Information Report or FIR under the Goonda Act was also slapped against the local police in-charge for siding with the main accused and for allegedly pressuring the families of the victims.
Disturbing details of the massacre revealed the village head and nearly 200 of his associates on 32 tractor trolleys had arrived to take possession of land from the victims, who were tribals. After the tribals opposed giving up the land, they were fired at for more than half-an-hour.
The piece of land in question measured 36 acres. The tribals said they had tilled the land for generations and also demanded titles for it. The main accused in turn claimed they had bought the land a decade ago from a local family.
Apart from being removed from their posts, departmental action has been initiated against Ankit Agarwal, the district magistrate and Salman Tej Patil, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said in a press conference. He also announced the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe " the entire matter".
"Action has also been taken against 8 gazetted and 7 non-gazetted officers. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) will also be formed in the case," said Yogi Adityanath, adding that FIRs will be registered against several police and administration officials.
"The entire matter will be probed by an SIT. The SIT will be headed by DIG SIT J Ravindra Gaud, and will have Additional SP Amrita Mishra along with three inspectors. DG SIT RP Singh will be monitoring the work of the SIT," the chief minister was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
S Ramalingam and Prabhakar Chaudhary have been made the new district magistrate and new superintendent of police, reported PTI.
The incident had snowballed into a political controversy soon after Congress' East Uttar Pradesh-in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was detained the night before she met the victims of the Sonbhadra massacre.
Apart from the drama which had ensued over her detention, Ms Gandhi and Yogi Adityanath had also exchanged barbs over the incident.
"I welcome respected Chief Minister's Sonbhadra visit. Even though it is late, it is the government's duty to stand with the victims. It is good to know your duties. Umbha has been waiting for justice for a long time. Expect that the victims of Umbha will get justice and their five demands will be fulfilled," a tweet from Ms Gandhi read.
Yogi Adityanath had in turn alleged the village head of being a Samajwadi Party member, adding that the massacre was a "big political conspiracy", the foundations of which were laid by the Congress 60 years ago.
(With Inputs From PTI)
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