LUCKNOW: Once a nerve centre of Naxal movement in eastern UP, now referred to as “energy capital” of the country owing to a number of thermal power plants, the tribal dominated district of Sonbhadra suddenly started blinking on national map on Wednesday afternoon when 10 persons of the Gond tribe were brutally massacred over a two-year-old land dispute in Ubbha village under Ghorawal police station area.
A day after the bloody clash, an uneasy calm prevailed in Ubbha which is home to around 300 families - 150 of Bhurkiya community while another 125 of Gond community. “Many of the families were so petrified that they have left the village to their relatives’ place in adjoin villages,” said a local source.
While 24 persons were arrested, an FIR was registered against the 24 named and 50 unnamed persons in the case. Even eight rifles were also recovered from the sight of massacre.
However, the name of a former IAS officer of Bihar cadre also cropped up in the whole dispute. Besides, 10 lives were lost with over two dozen people left grievously injured in the bloody clash between the members of Gond tribe and village head Yagya Dutt who had been trying to take possession of the disputed 90 bigha land for the last two years.
As per the local sources, the disputed land had been in possession of people from Gond tribe who had been doing farming on it since 1947. Way back in 1955, a former Bihar cadre IAS officer Prabhat Kumar Mishra bought 600 bigha land in the village in the name of an Adharsh Society with the help of the then village head and tehsildar.
The sources say that the registration of the said land ended in 1978 and in 1989, Mishra got 112 bighas of the society land transferred in the name of his wife Asha Mishra and daughter. What is more, a person named Dheeraj from Patna used to visit Ubbha village annually on behalf of Mishra family to collect per bigha ‘lagan’ from the villagers against the land as they used to do farming on it.
“Two years ago, when the Mishras failed to get the possession of the land, they sold off 90 bighas to village head Yagya Dutt, who, in a bid to acquire it, killed so many villagers for resisting the attempt by pelting stone on his men,” said a police official.
On the other, UP DGP OP Singh said that if need be even the IAS officer’s family would be questioned in the case. Meanwhile, recalling Wednesday horror, a local youth, seeking anonymity, said: “Pradhan had come determined and all prepared with hundreds of his men armed with weapons in 32 tractors to take possession of the land even at the cost of tribals’ life who used to draw their livelihood from it.”
A shocked village woman witness to the bloody trail said, “Pradhan had purchased our land fraudulently. He was trying to get its possession but failed so far. On Wednesday, it seemed that he had come determined to kill those who would oppose him.”
Ubbha, a tribal dominated village and inflicted by Naxal menace till a decade ago, otherwise remained largely peaceful ever since, said a senior district administration official. In fact, the mineral-rich Sonbhadra, located about 400km from capital Lucknow, is the second-largest district in Uttar Pradesh and the only one in the country sharing a boundary with four other states - Madhya Pradesh, Chhattishgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar.