Acting on the recommendations of a three-member committee which probed the Sonbhadra massacre, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday removed the district magistrate and superintendent of police of the district with immediate effect and ordered a SIT probe into the whole issue.
“The government has initiated departmental proceedings against Sonbhadra District Magistrate Anikt Kumar Agarwal and Superintendent of Police Salman Zafar Taj Patil. Till the completion of the departmental proceedings, Agarwal will remain attached to the Appointment department and Patil to the DGP’s office,” the Chief Minister said in a hurriedly-called news conference here on Sunday.
S Ramalingam has been appointed as the new district magistrate of Sonbhadra and Prabhakar Chaudhary the new district police chief.
The Chief Minister also ordered a Special Investigation Team probe by DIG (SIT) J Ravindra Gaur. He will investigate the matter and file FIRs wherever required.
The SIT headed by Gaud will have ASP Amrita Mishra along with three inspectors. DG (SIT) RP Singh will monitor the probe.
The Chief Minister also ordered that FIRs be lodged against six officers, including tehsildar, circle officers, assistant record officer and ASP Arun Prakash,
Yogi Adityanath said the chances of officials who transferred gram panchayat land to a co-operative society in 1955 being alive were bleak but action should be taken against the officials who transferred land to individuals in 1989, if they were alive.
He also ordered that FIRs be lodged against wives of two retired IAS officers for illegally purchasing gram panchayat land in 1989.
“The land deal points to illegal administrative action in which the politicians and bureaucrats joined hands to harass poor farmers. Gram sabha land was illegally sold to a co-operative society in 1955 and then to individuals in 1989. The officials who were supposed to protect the farmers lodged FIRs against them. Some of the farmers were booked under Goonda Act. This emboldened the village head who opened fire on a villager when he tried to take possession of the land,” Yogi Adityanath said.
He said officials who sided with politicians and worked under the pressure of bureaucrats would be punished.
The action by the Uttar Pradesh government comes a day after Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) submitted his report to the government.
Yogi had constituted a three-member committee to probe into the land deal after 10 Gond tribals were killed and 28 injured in a clash when the henchmen of a gram pradhan opened fire on them over a land dispute.
The Chief Minister said that his government had immediately provided relief to the victims when the unfortunate incident happened in Umbha village of Sonbhadra where the gram pradhan and his henchmen tried to forcibly take possession of land which the tribals were tilling for the last three generations.
“The incident also has a political connection as the co-operative society to which the land was transferred was headed by Congress leader Maheshwar Prasad Narain, who was a Rajya Sabha member. Gram pradhan Yagya Dutt, to whom the land was sold on July 17, 2019 is a Samajwadi Party sympathiser,” Yogi Adityanath said, adding that the transfer of 1,334 bighas of land in Sapahi and Umbha village was illegal and was done due to politician-bureaucrat nexus.