NCST team to probe Sonbhadra carnage

An injured being brought to a hospital in Varanasi, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Nine people were killed and 20 others were injured in a property dispute in Sonbhadra district after a gunfight between two groups. Photo/PTI

A four-member team of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribe (NCST) will visit Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh on Monday to conduct a probe into killing of 10 tribals in a violent clash over a protracted land dispute in a village.

The NCST chairman Nand Kumar Sai will lead the enquiry team.

The commission's decision comes two days after a group of people led by Murtia village head allegedly opened fire at a rival group killing 10 people belonging to the scheduled tribe in Umbha village of Sonbhadra district over a protracted land dispute.

The incident has kicked off a huge political row in Uttar Pradesh.

“The Commission has decided to visit the place of incident, meet the family members of deceased and injured persons and to hold a meeting with the administrative and police officers in the district,” the Union ministry of tribal affairs said in a statement on Friday.

Keeping in view of “the seriousness of the incident”, the Commission has also issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary, the director-general of police, district collector and the superintendent of police of Sonbhadra district, calling for “a factual and action taken” report in connection with the incident.

An inquiry team of the NCST will comprise its member Maya Chintamn Ivnate and two officials of the central government.

“The team will visit Umbha village in the forenoon of July 22 (Monday) and meet the victims. In the afternoon, the team will hold a meeting with the divisional commissioner, Mirzapur, additional director general of police, Varanasi range, district collector and the superintendent of police of Sonbhadra district,” the ministry said.

“We will try to understand what was the dispute about. We have come to know that these tribals have been living on that land for decades... then why the administration has not granted them ownership yet?" a news agency quoted the NCST chairman as saying.

While the state police have arrested 29 people so far in connection with the carnage, Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has suspended a sub-divisional magistrate and four policemen over the incident.

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