Yogi Adityanath visited Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra where 10 people died in a shootout (File)

New Delhi: 

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today met the families of the 10 tribal farmers killed in a shootout in Ubbah village in Sonbhadra district this week, and promised that his government would “help (them) in every way”. The Chief Minister, whose visit came amid a spiralling political row over the deaths, also said he would take “strict action against those who tried to steal land”.

Ten people were killed and over 24 injured on Wednesday when a village chief, Yagya Dutt, and his associates, fired on a group of farmers who refused to give up 36 acres of land they had tilled for generations.

Witnesses said Yagya Dutt then brought nearly 200 men on 32 tractor trolleys to seize the land. They fired at the tribals for more than 30 minutes in one of the most chilling incidents the country has seen in recent times.

“Strict action will be taken against those who tried to steal land. The government will help (you) in every way,” the Chief Minister said. He also announced the establishment of a police outpost in the area to prevent further attacks.

Yogi Adityanath also advised the families of the people who were killed to send their children to Anganwadis (rural child care centres).

Many of the victims of the shootout demanded money and land as compensation, along with death penalty to the guilty, news agency ANI reported.

“We will demand Rs 10 lakh and 10 bigha land for the kin of those who died in the firing and Rs 7 lakh and six bigha land for the injured,” Chhote Lal, who was injured in the shootout, said.

“We will demand capital punishment for the village headman,” Indra Kumar, who was injured in the firing, added.

The incident triggered attacks on the BJP government in the state with the opposition accusing it of trying to protect the accused. The Congress, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, the Left and the Trinamool Congress hit out at the government on Saturday.

While the standoff between Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the UP government ended on Saturday, a day after she was detained from going to Sonbhadra, a new confrontation was triggered when a Trinamool Congress delegation was stopped at Varanasi airport.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra did finally meet the villagers – at a guest house in Mirzapur district on Saturday – saying that “I’ll be back”.

Till now, 24 people have been arrested for the mass murder. A total of 78 people have been charged, including Yagya Dutt and his brother.

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