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Nine Killed, Several Injured in Shooting over Land Dispute in UP’s Sonbhadra District; Two Arrested

Nine Killed, Several Injured in Shooting over Land Dispute in UP’s Sonbhadra District; Two Arrested

As per preliminary information available, a few people had reached the disputed field to farm the land farming even after another group opposed the action.

Lucknow: In a shocking incident reported from Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh, nine people were killed and at least 19 injured in firing over a land dispute in Ghorawal village on Wednesday. The deceased included six men and three women.

A senior police official said that two men, nephews of the village head, have been arrested so far. A house-to-house search is underway to nab those involved in the shootout, police said.

The land in the district's Ghorawal area earlier belonged to an IAS officer and he had sold it to village head Yagya Dutt, who wanted to take its possession, said Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) OP Singh.

When Dutt reached the spot with his henchmen in 10 to 12 tractors, local villagers tried to stop them from taking over the land, police said. Those accompanying him then showered a volley of bullets on the villagers, killing nine of them.

"Nine persons have been killed and 19 injured in the incident of firing," District Magistrate Ankit Kumar Agarwal said, adding that the incident had taken place over a land dispute.

"The sub-divisional magistrate and the superintendent of police are on the spot. Nine people have been brought to the district hospital until now; of these, some are injured and some are dead. However, the final number of deaths can be confirmed only after all the ambulances carrying the dead bodies reach the district hospital,” he said.

"We have also alerted the Madhya Pradesh police and, if needed, action against the IAS officer will also be initiated," he added.

Sonbhadra is the second largest district in Uttar Pradesh and is the only one in the country sharing its boundary with four other states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattishgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar.

The injured have been rushed to the hospital where the condition of some of them was stated to be critical.

Speaking to News18 over phone, Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh said the issue related to 90 bighas bought by the village head from an IAS officer.

"When the village head started work on the land he had bought, he was confronted by some villagers, which led to a tiff between the two sides," said the police officer. "A clash then took place and several people were killed. Two men identified as Ganesh and Vimlesh, nephews of the village head, have been arrested as the police took prompt action. A hunt is on for the others and all the culprits will be nabbed very soon. Sonbhadra SP is already on the spot and we have also briefed the chief minister about the situation."

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has taken cognisance of the incident and expressed condolences to the families of the deceased. The CM's Office in a tweet said that Adityanath has directed DGP Singh to personally monitor the case.

The land dispute had been festering for some time and police said they had initiated the process of attaching the property.

The incident, the bloodiest clash over land in recent years in the state, comes just a day before the Monsoon Session of the state assembly begins. The opposition has been criticising the BJP government state over law and order in the state.

(With inputs from PTI)