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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

‘What was our fault?’: Tension, fear in UP village after 10 killed over property dispute

A local, who didn’t wish to be identified following the tension in the village, said the locals were using the land in question for farming for decades.

lucknow Updated: Jul 18, 2019 14:19 IST
Sudhir Kumar
Sudhir Kumar
Hindustan Times, Varanasi
Shocked villagers stand outside their houses in Ubha village, Uttar Pradesh.
Shocked villagers stand outside their houses in Ubha village, Uttar Pradesh. (HT Photo )
         

Tension and fear prevailed in Ubha village which was rocked by firing over a land dispute on Wednesday. Ten people were killed and 19 others injured in the group clash.

According to a senior police officer, the incident took place when the village head, who had purchased a piece of land two years back, went to the site to take possession and a group of villagers opposed the move.

A local, who didn’t wish to be identified following the tension in the village, said the locals were using the land in question for farming for decades.

A Naxal-affected village till a decade ago, this tribal-dominated village had otherwise largely remained peaceful ever since, he said.

“The village has around 300 families. Among them 150 are of Bhurkiya community and 125 belong to Gond community. All are peace loving,” he said.

The scenario in the village changed following efforts of the district administration.

“While many of the locals now earn their livelihood through farming, others work as daily wager,” he said.

Another local, who also didn’t wish to be named, said the incident had left them in shock and trauma. Many had fled and gone to their relatives elsewhere, he added.

He said over a dozen tractors were brought by the village head. “His men opened fired on the locals, who in self defence hurled stones and ran for their lives. But the bullets killed ten people. Now who will earn a living for the families who lost their kin,” he said.

 An injured being brought to a hospital in Varanasi, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Ten  people were killed and several others were injured in a property dispute in Sonbhadra district after a gunfight between two groups.
An injured being brought to a hospital in Varanasi, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Ten people were killed and several others were injured in a property dispute in Sonbhadra district after a gunfight between two groups. ( PTI )

Vijay Kumar, a resident of Ubhha village, was present at the spot along with many locals. “We were standing under a tree. The village head along with his accomplices reached the field on many tractors and started ploughing it. We opposed the move. Then his men attacked us with canes and we ran. In our defence, we hurled stones at pradhan’s accomplices who then opened indiscriminate fire in which nine persons were killed and many others were injured,” Kumar said.

Nagendra said that the accomplices were equipped with firearms and wanted to take possession over the land which was being used by the locals for decades for farming.

Another local, who didn’t wish to be named, alleged the land was fraudulently registered by the village head.

Another victim, Terwa Devi (50) said, “The land was ours, but it was fraudulently registered by the village head. He wanted to get its possession but failed to do so. It seemed that he came determined to kill those who came in his way.”

“What was our fault? We are poor and earn our livelihood only by cultivating this land,” she said.

First Published: Jul 18, 2019 14:19 IST

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