Retired IAS officer denies role in Sonebhadra land row

Sonebhadra, July 25 (IANS) Retired IAS officer of Bihar cadre, Prabhat Misra, whose name is being linked to the lad dispute that led to the Sonebhadra massacre, has denied charges of land grabbing and said that he had all papers to prove the legality of that land deal.

The officer, now 86, is settled in Patna.

He claimed that his father-in-law, Maheshwar Prasad Narain Sinha had formed Adarsh Sahkari Krishi Samiti, Ubha-Sapahi, in 1951 after purchasing 1,000 bigha land from Raja Burhar, Anand Bramhshah.

The land was purchased in the name of Sinha and his four family members.

"There were 12 members of the society (including five of Sinha family), who collectively held 1,400 bigha of land, with the other seven having 400 bigha," he said.

Sinha was elder brother of former Uttar Pradesh Governor Chandeshwar Prasad Narain Singh (February 28, 1980 to March 31, 1985). Earlier, in 1949, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had nominated Singh as India's ambassador to Nepal. Sinha was also Socialist Party's Rajya Sabha MP from April 3, 1952 to April 2, 1956.

He denied reports that he was the one who formed the society, and said, "I got married to Sinha's daughter Asha Sinha in 1959 when she was already a member of the society and sizeable part of land was under her name.

"After the Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, each of the society's 12 members were left with 72 bigha land, including Asha and Sinha's wife Parvati Devi. After Sinha's death in 1978, his wife Parvati Devi was elected president of society by the members."

In 1985, Sinha's wife died and as per her will, Misra's daughter, Vinita Sharma, also got 72 bigha land. "In 2017, my wife Asha and daughter Vinita sold the 144 bigha land in Ubha and Sapai villages to Yagya Dutt Bhurtiya for Rs 50 lakh, which my wife donated to Shirdi Sai Shrine Board," said the retired official.

However, advocate Nityanand Dwiwedi, who is fighting the legal battle for Gond tribals dismissed the retired official's claims and contested the legality of society itself as Sinha was a resident of Bihar.

"Under Society Registration Act, he cannot register a society in Uttar Pradesh and moreover, if the society was made after purchase of land, there must be some document like sale deed and registration or 'patta' (document related to land ownership) of land, let them show it," said the lawyer.

Prabhat Misra said: "I have all the papers but now, since the case is being investigated by government, I am not willing to share them with media".

The official's name has been cropping up in the land dispute following the Sonebhadra massacre in which 10 people were killed on July 17.

Misra said that he was never posted in Mirzapur (before Sonebhadra was made a separate district) and hence allegations of his having used his clout to get the land were baseless.

--IANS

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