Was the Sonbhadra massacre avoidable? If only Adityanath..
Last week, 10 tribals lost their lives in an Uttar Pradesh village, after henchmen of the village head killed them in broad daylight, putting Yogi Adityanath's government in line of fire. And now, an MLA of Apna Dal (S) has claimed he tried apprising Adityanath of the situation months ago. Had the government paid attention to concerns, the massacre could have been avoided.
The incident happened in Sonbhadra district's Umbha village, where members of Gond community had been cultivating 36 acres of land for generations. But village head Yagya Dutt claimed he purchased it two years ago. On July 17, he arrived to take "possession" of the land, and when villagers protested, he ordered his men to open fire. 10 people died and nearly 28 were injured.
While the gruesome incident worried everyone, what's more shocking is the fact that it was completely avoidable. Apna Dal (S) MLA Hariram Chero, who represents the Duddhi Assembly constituency, on Tuesday, said he wrote a letter to Adityanath complaining about land mafias. Mentioning the situation in the village, Chero had demanded action against Dutt. But the apathetic government didn't listen.
According to Chero, some residents of Umbha village paid him a visit in December 2018, complaining against Dutt. "I organized a jan chaupal at Umbha in January. I invited officials of Ghorawal Tehsil. They also demanded action against the village head. Thereafter, I asked the officials to look into the matter and take the actions required to sort out the dispute," he said.
"The UP chief minister was informed through letter on January 14, 2019, that tribals' land in Sonbhadra was being grabbed by the land mafia, and they were harassed by being framed in false cases," Chero, whose party is a part of NDA in UP, said.
However, Chero claimed officials didn't bring the letter before Adityanath. "The matter was not brought to the notice of the CM. Otherwise, such a big incident would not have happened," he told PTI. Saying that he was saddened by the incident, Chero demanded protection for tribals. Meanwhile, BJP MLA from Robertsganj, Bhupesh Chaubey, said he had no idea about the said letter.
After the incident, the state government promised strict action and suspended four officials. Adityanath paid a visit to the bereaved families (ironically only after Congress' Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met them), and announced compensation of Rs. 18.50 lakh for kin of victims. Rs. 2.5 lakh each was also announced for the injured. Furthermore, an Awas each for victims' families was also promised.