Sonebhadra carnage: DM, SP shifted, revenue officials booked

Lucknow (IANS) UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday removed Sonebhadra's District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police and ordered a departmental inquiry against them in the massacre case in which ten people were killed in the district on July 17.

S. Ramlingam has been posted as the new District Magistrate, replacing Ankit Agarwal, while Prabhakar Chaudhary will be the new Superintendent of Police in place of Salman Taj Patil.

Addressing a hurriedly-convened press conference here, the Chief Minister said that action was being taken on basis of the report submitted by the inquiry committee, headed by Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue, Renuka Kumar.

Action has also been announced against several revenue officials.

Adityanath said that since the dispute began in 1955 when the land was given to Adarsh Society formed by Congress leaders, the government had decided to lodge an FIR against the then revenue officials, if they were still alive.

The 1,000 page report, according to sources, names several revenue officials over the years who either turned a blind eye to the simmering land dispute or allowed the land to change hands in violation of the rules.

The report suggested action against 13 revenue officials.

The panel headed by Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue, had a specific brief to investigate how gram sabha land in the three villages of Ubha, Sapai and Murtiya in the Sonebhadra was transferred to a society and then taken over by the village head.

Advocate Nityanand Dwivedi, who is fighting a legal battle for Gond tribals of the three villages in the lower court, said that after abolition of the zamindari system, 600 bighas of land that belonged to the Raja of Badhaar, Anand Bhrama Saha, was marked barren (infertile) in revenue records and transferred as gram sabha land to be tilled by the tribals.

In 1952, IAS officer Prabhat Kumar Misra was posted in Mirzapur. He formed a society, Adarsh Cooperative Society Ltd, and appointed his father-in-law, Maheshwari Prasad Sinha of Bihar's Muzaffarpur, as its President and his daughter and wife Asha Misra an office-bearer.

On December 17, 1955, at least 463 bighas was transferred in the name of the society. These papers related to this are missing. Till Sinha's death, the land was registered in his name. On September 6, 1989, 200 bighas was transferred to Sinha's daughter, Asha Misra, and grand-daughter Vinita, who sold off 144s bigha for Rs 2 crore to Yagya Dutt Gujjar, the village head.

Outgoing Sonebhadra District Magistrate Agarwal had said: "We have all relevant papers, barring the 1955 file." He also said the file was not submitted in revenue records of Sonebhadra, which was carved out of Mirzapur in 1989.

It is noteworthy that it was on the basis of the 1955 papers that Yogi Adityanath had squarely blamed the Congress for the land dispute that led to the massacre.

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