LUCKNOW (Uttar Pradesh): The Yogi Adityanth government on Sunday removed the District Magistrate (DM) and superintendent of police (SP) with immediate effect and suspended over half a dozen other gazetted officers of lower ranks. This comes after the July massacre over a land dispute where 10 Gond tribals were killed in Umbha village of Sonbhadra district.
Addressing a press conference at his residence on Sunday, Yogi Adityanath confirmed that besides the transfers, departmental proceedings were also initiated against Sonbhadra District Magistrate Anikt Kumar Agarwal and Superintendent of Police Salman Taj Patil.
The CM appointed S Ram Linga as the new DM for Sonbhadra and Prabhakar Chaudhury will take over as the new SP. Both the officials visited the district immediately after their appointment through a government chopper.
The Uttar Pradesh 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.
Kumar submitted a 1000-page detailed report on the massacre which had left 10 dead and over two dozen villagers injured while resisting a bid by Umbha village head Yagya Dutt and hundreds of his accomplices to grab 90-bigha land on July 17.
The Umbha village massacre was the culmination of an illegal deal involving gram panchayat land in 2017.
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 also recommended action against 13 existing cooperative societies of Sonbhadra. Even those who were involved in such land deals in Sonbhadra, Robertsganj and Mirzapur since 1955 would be brought to books if alive, the CM added.
The report suggested action against 13 revenue officials.
The CM ordered the suspension of the current SDM, CO, Assistant Block Officer, SO, SI and Assistant Registrar of the district revenue department.
The then-tehsildar (of 1989) and the SDM of Robertsganj were also booked for illegal land deals.
Orders were issued to lodge an FIR against all those suspended officials.
Adityanath promised that action would be taken against all those who were found involved in irregularities related to gram panchayat land in Sonbhadra.
The CM had set up a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by Renuka Kumar. The CM, who was monitoring the probe personally, directed Additional Chief Secretary, Home Avneesh Awasthi to take immediate action against the officers recommended by the report.
Cases will be lodged under pertinent sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Asha Mishra, wife of Prabhat Kumar Mishra, a former IAS officer of the Bihar cadre, and their daughter Vinita Sharma, wife of IAS officer Bhanu Pratap Sharma, for indulging in illegal sale and purchase of gram panchayat land to Yagya Dutt Sharma in 2017.
Adityanath also set up another SIT led by DIG J Ravindra Gaur for an analysis of all the cases.
Yogi also set up another six-member panel under Additional Chief Secretary Renuka Kumar to look into instances of land grabbing by illegal and fake societies in Sonbhadra and Mirzapur region, and to submit a report in three months.
The CM claimed that over a lakh hectare land was grabbed by fake societies mainly involving the Congress leaders. “This would be probed thoroughly by the 6-member panel and stern action would be taken against all those who would be found in illegal possession of government land,” said the CM.
Much political heat was generated over the Sonbhadra massacre especially after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was stopped from proceeding to the affected village.