Apna Dal (Sonelal) MLA Hariram Chero, who represents Duddhi constituency in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district, on Wednesday claimed he had written a letter to Chief Minister Adityanath in January about the harassment of Adivasi farmers in Umbha village but his letter was not shown to the chief minister, PTI reported. Ten Adivasi farmers were shot dead and 28 were injured by a village head and his associates on July 17 over a land dispute.
“The UP chief minister was informed through a letter on January 14, 2019, that the tribals’ land in Sonbhadra was being grabbed by the land mafia, and they were harassed by being framed in false cases,” Chero reportedly wrote.
The legislator alleged that officials never brought the letter to the chief minister. “The matter was not brought to the notice of the CM,” he told the news agency. “Otherwise, such a big incident would not happened.” Apna Dal (Sonelal) is an alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh.
The legislator claimed that efforts had been made to grab the 600 bighas of disputed land by setting up a fake society. He alleged that police personnel were under pressure from land mafia, accusing them of harassing the Adivasis in Umbha and physically exploiting women in the village.
Chero said a group of villagers had visited his home in December 2018 and complained that village head Yaghya Dutt Bhuriya, who is from the Gujjar community, was forcing them to vacate the land that they had cultivated since ages, Hindustan Times reported.
“I organised a jan chaupal at Umbha in January,” Hindustan Times quoted Chero as saying. “I invited officials of Ghorawal Tehsil. Locals of Umbha informed that the village head frequently threatened them and asked them to leave the land. They also demanded action against the village head. Thereafter, I asked the officials to look into the matter and take the actions required to sort out the dispute.”
In his letter to Adityanath, Chero had reportedly demanded that strict action against the village head. Bhupesh Chaubey, the BJP MLA from Robertsganj, however said he was not aware of any letter written by Chero.
On Saturday, Adityanath had blamed the Congress for the violence in Sonbhadra, saying the basis of the land dispute was laid in 1955 during the Opposition party’s rule. He also hinted at Bhuriya’s links with the Samajwadi Party.
Adityanath named a committee to look into the firing, and instructed that the report be submitted within 10 days after the incident snowballed into a political controversy. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi attempted to visit Sonbhadra on Friday but was detained and taken to a guesthouse, where she stayed the night. The following day, Gandhi was allowed to meet the families of two victims. A Trinamool Congress delegation was also stopped at Varanasi airport while attempting to visit the district.