A village head and his supporters allegedly opened fire on a rival group over a land dispute in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra.
10 people were reportedly killed, including three women, and leaving 19 injured on Wednesday, the police said.
The 90 bighas of land in contention once belonged to an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who sold it to village head Yagya Dutt about two years ago, Uttar Pradesh director general of police (DGP) OP Singh said.
DGP Singh said the police had arrested Girijesh and Vimlesh, both nephews of the village head, and were trying to trace him as well. “We have also alerted the Madhya Pradesh Police, and, if needed, action against the IAS officer will also be initiated,” Singh said.
“This particular piece of land had caused tension earlier too and the police had gotten involved. The village chief had alleged that the villagers had illegally occupied his land. The police had asked both sides to back off and the district administration had even decided to take over the land, those proceedings had been initiated,” PV Ramasastry, the police officer in-charge of law and order in UP, said.
When Dutt reached the site to take possession with his men in 10 to 12 tractors, local villagers tried to stop him from taking over the land by hurling stones, the police said.
Those accompanying Dutt then retaliated by showering bullets on the protesters, all tribal people, killing nine of them.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath directed the DGP to personally monitor the case and ensure action against those responsible for the attack, a government spokesperson said.
Adityanath also directed the Mirzapur commissioner and additional director general (Varanasi zone) to jointly investigate the cause of the clash and fix responsibility within 24 hours.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh over the incident.
“The Sonbhadra incident is heart-rending and has caught the administration, CM and ministers napping,” Gandhi said.