Sonbhadra shootout: The shooting took place for half-an-hour in the Uttar Pradesh village
Nearly a week after 10 people were shot dead in a dispute over land at Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh, two videos that have surfaced reveal the sheer horror of what went down on July 17 at a village just seven hours from state capital Lucknow.
The videos show the moments immediately before the massacre in which a village chief fired on a group of farmers who had refused to give up 36 acres of land they had tilled for generations.
One of the videos shows a large contingent of tractors lined up near the village where the killings took place. The visuals drive home the scale of the attack on villagers who didn’t have a chance.
It emerged later that Yagya Dutt, the village chief accused of leading the shooting, had brought in 200 armed men on 32 tractors. He claimed that he had bought the land 10 years ago from a prominent local family and it belonged to him.
In the other, more frightening video, a large number of men holding sticks are seen attacking villagers. Gunshots are also heard in the chaos. A man can be seen falling to the ground.
“Call the police, call the police,” a woman is heard screaming in panic.
It would later be revealed that the one-sided shooting took place for half-an-hour.
The police arrived half an hour after the shooting. The delayed response has raised several questions, given that even before the shooting started, there was a huge build-up and plenty of warning.
The videos were reportedly taken on the phone by a villager and circulated locally; they made their way to journalists this morning.
“They just started firing. Once people started falling to the ground, they started hitting them with lathis. It was plain horror,” a woman had told NDTV last week.
“We did not know they had come armed with guns. When they started firing, we ran here and there (to save ourselves), started calling the police. The police came after an hour. The firing went on for a half-an-hour,” she said.
Despite the gravity of such a crime in broad daylight, in full public view, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Sonbhadra only after Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi tried to visit the village and was stopped.
The chief minister accused Priyanka Gandhi of “shedding crocodile tears” and called the shooting a “very big political conspiracy” dating back to 1955.
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