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April    2020

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Yogi approves action against 11 officials for Sonbhadra land dispute

Almost eight months after 11 Gond tribals were massacred in Sonbhadra district over a land dispute, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath approved action against 21 people, including government officials, who had been found guilty in fraudulent land transfer in Umbha and Sapahi villages that led to the July 17 massacre.

The Chief Minister also ordered departmental action against 21 other officials and employees, on Monday, including then District Magistrate Ankit Agarwal, then Sub-Divisional Magistrate Vijay Prakash Tiwari, Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies Vijay Kumar Agarwal, then ASP Arun Dikshit and then Deputy Superintendents of Police Rahul Mishra, Abhishek Singh and Gopal Krishna Singh, for negligence and dereliction of duty.

Yogi also ordered that Rs 1,09,90,026, along with interest, be recovered from Asha Mishra, wife of retired IAS Prabhat Mishra, and her daughter Vineeta. This is the amount for which the two had sold the disputed land to the village head Yagya Dutt.

Permission has also been granted to file chargesheet on the basis of FIR filed in the case.

It may be recalled that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up in August 2019, less than a month after the village head Yagya Dutt and his aides opened indiscriminate fire on Gond tribals, killing 11 and injuring 21 others.

The SIT had submitted its 350-page report to government on February 19 and held 16 government officials responsible for illegally transferring the disputed land to a society.

The SIT found that the gram sabha land had been in possession of the tribal families since pre-Independence and was later fraudulently transferred to a society.

Subsequently, the land was transferred multiple-times to various societies and individuals and finally, in the name of the two accused.

Yagya Dutt and his henchmen were arrested after the massacre, while five cops were fined one month's salary in January.

A committee, headed by Additional Chief Secretary (revenue) Renuka Kumar, was set up in August 2019 to probe Krishi Sahkari Committees and had found that around 6,602-acre land worth Rs 660 crore had been illegally occupied by at least seven cooperative societies in Sonbhadra and Mirzapur.

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