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Sonbhadra Carnage: ADG Committee Submits Report, Villagers Allege Police Apathy

Activists also alleged that the compensation amount announced by the government has been manipulated.
Sonbhadra Killings

Image Courtesy: NDTV Khabar

A committee headed by Additional Director General (ADG) Law and Order (Varanasi division) and Commissioner of Mirzapur have submitted a report to the Chief Minister Adityanath on the Sonbhadra carnage. According to the report, people of Ubha village where the incident had happened informed the ADG that the police did not reach the spot on time despite repeatedly requesting for security forces. The villagers also claimed that they had alerted the government about incident. The carnage that left 10 tribals dead and at least 28 others injured could have been prevented if the police had been more efficient. The report has recorded the statements of 13 villagers regarding the incident.

Besides the committee headed by the ADG, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had also constituted a high level committee on July 19 to investigate the matter and to submit the report within 10 days. However, the report, which was to be submitted on July 29, was delayed due to lawyers’ protest across the state. As such, the process to take five accused in remand could not be completed, delaying the hearings in the court. 

Meanwhile, UP police have arrested at least 50 accused in relation to the case. On July 17, a group of around 200 men on 32 tractor-trolleys armed with stout sticks, spears and rifles arrived at Ubhha village in Sonbhadra district led by village sarpanch Yagyadutt Gurjar and opened fire on tribals where 10 people were killed and 28 were injured.

Also read: Landlord Savagery in Sonbhadra on Tribal Cultivators

MLA Hariram Chero from Apna Dal (Sonelal) told NewsClick that earlier on January 14, 2019, he had written a letter to the UP CM alerting him about the tensed situation in the village. He added that the carnage could have been avoided if the government had taken his letter seriously.

ACTIVISTS ALLEGE COMPENSATION GIVEN FOR VICTIMS MANIPULATED

Former Inspector General (UP police) SR Darapuri, who had visited Ubha village to meet the grieving families along with the coordinator of National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), told NewsClick, "The land scam in Ubha started in 1955. The land was allotted to the Adarsh Society by then Tehsildar. However, Tehsildar is not a statutory body to allot land to anyone, only District Magistrate and Commissioner have such authority. Since then, the dispute has been ongoing. In 1989, the society land was transferred to an individual which is illegal as society land cannot be transferred to any individual. Then again in 2017, it was sold it off to a third party. Now, the most important thing is that all members of the society were from Bihar, as the society’s president was the brother of then UP Governor CPN Singh. This is how things were manipulated under political pressure.”

"In 2018, the land owner tried to capture the land with help of goons but due to resistance from the adivasis, they could not succeed. It should be noted that they (land mafia) also tried to capture the personal lands belonging to five adivasis," he added.

He also alleged that the Adityanath government has spread misinformation regarding the compensation amount given to the victims’ families, while claiming that the ex-gratia amount has been granted from the government’s funds. He said, “Adityanath government said that he has given Rs 10.25 lakh to each of bereaved families of the deceased but the reality is that Rs 5.25 lakh was given under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Another Rs 5 lakh was distributed in the name of Kisan Bima. The ruling BJP has cheated the poor dalit."

A member of National Dalit Movement for Justice told NewsClick, “We visited the village and met the victims families on July 29. The victims do not want money, but they want the land to be allotted officially. However, it seems that the ruling party do not want to give them justice. In Sonbhadra district, the land mafia are very active and loyal police also works for them. We have seen that in a number of cases the lands belonging to adivasis were grabbed by the mafia. If they do not get their land back, we will organise a massive protest against the government across the country.”

During his visit to Sonbhadra, CM Adityanath met the victims of the incident and announced a compensation of  Rs 18.5 lakh for the victims’ families and Rs 2.5 lakh to those who were injured in the clashes.

A delegation of Congress leaders also handed over compensation cheques of Rs 10 lakh to the families of those killed in the clash after Congress General Secretary in charge of Eastern UP Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met the victims' families after a high voltage drama.

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