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Once Affected by Maoists, How a Village in UP's Sonbhadra Became Witness to a Bloody Land Dispute

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

The dispute over land started two years ago when the Gram Pradhan purchased the land from an NGO. The villagers who have been cultivating the land for decades protested the transfer of land.

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Qazi Faraz Ahmad

The naxal affected Ubha village in the Sonbhadra district used to be a peaceful vilage until last Wednesday, when 10 people were killed in firing over a land dispute. The tribal dominated village has 300 families of which 150 families belong to Bhurkiya community while another 120 come from Gond community.

The dispute over 90 Bighas of land between the villagers and the village Pradhan went violent after the men brought by village Pradhan allegedly fired over the villagers which claimed 10 lives and left another 20 injured.

The dispute started two years ago when the Gram Pradhan purchased the land from an NGO having connections with a Bihar cadre IAS officer. The villagers who have been cultivating the land for decades protested the transfer of land.

The land was registered with Adarsh Society till 1978. The land was then transferred to wife and daughter of IAS Prabhat Kumar. Locals claim that the land was fraudulently registered to the village Pradhan.

“The gram pradhan reached the fields on Wednesday with scores of his men on more than a dozen tractors and started ploughing the fields. After which locals opposed and started stone pelting after which the men brought in by village pradhan opened fire on the villagers”, said a local on the condition of anonymity.

Salman Taj Patil, Sambhal SP said, “An FIR has been registered in which 24 people have been named and 50 unknown people have been mentioned. 12 people were arrested yesterday and another 12 were arrested today. Two weapons used in the incident have been recovered.”

Two men identified as Ganesh and Vimlesh, nephews of the Gram Pradhan, have also been arrested in the case. Police is searching for other culprits.

Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh said, “When the village head (Gram Pradhan) started working on the land, he was confronted by some villagers, which led to a tiff between the two sides.” He added that a clash followed and several people were killed.


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