Sonbhadra (UP): Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath held the Congress responsible for the Sonbhadra shootout. He also attempted to justify the implementation of section 144 just before Priyanka Gandhi's arrival to meet the victims.

While elaborating on what prompted his decision, Adityanth said the reason for the deaths was the action taken by the Congress government in 1955. He said that the Congress had registered the disputed land in the name of Adarsh Society, when the land actually belonged to the tribal communities.

Later, in 1989 the land ownership records were transferred in the name of an individual. Since then, the tribals started paying the individual to continue farming in the land. However, recently, the victims had stopped making payments to the individual after a heated argument with him.

Adityanath has directed a probe against three officers including the deputy commissioner in the matter and has sought a report.

At least 24 people have been arrested in connection with Wednesday's clash over the land dispute in Sonbhadra, even as the death toll in the incident rose to 10 with another person succumbing to injuries, officials said on Thursday.

18 others were injured when a village head and his supporters allegedly opened fire on a rival group, leading to the clash. The deceased belonged to the Gond tribe.

Superintendent of police ST Patil said 24 persons have been arrested and attempts are on to nab others.

Police have also arrested Girijesh and Vimlesh, two nephews of the village head, and are trying to trace him as well.

An FIR has been lodged against 61 people.

ALSO READ: Uttar Pradesh shootout: Congress' Priyanka Gandhi stopped from visiting victims

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has directed the director general of police to personally monitor the case and ensure action against the culprits, a government spokesperson said.

Adityanath had also directed the Mirzapur commissioner and additional director general (Varanasi zone) to jointly investigate the cause of the clash and fix responsibility.

The land in the district's Ghorawal area earlier belonged to an IAS officer and he had sold it to village head Yagya Dutt, who wanted to take its possession, Uttar Pradesh DGP OP Singh had told PTI.

When Dutt reached the spot with his henchmen in 10 to 12 tractors, local villagers tried to stop them from taking over the land, police said.

Those accompanying him then showered a hail of bullets on villagers, all tribals, killing nine of them.

Official sources said another person injured in the firing died during treatment on Wednesday night. He has been identified as Ashok Gond.

The condition of some of the 18 injured is said to be stable. Some of them with minor injuries have been discharged. 

* With inputs from PTI