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Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre: Patna HC acquits 26 Ranvir Sena men

Patna: Citing lack of evidence, the Patna High Court Wednesday acquitted 26 people for the 1997 Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre in Bihar in which 58 Dalits were killed.

Terming the court acquittal as "massacre of justice to poorest of the poor", Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said the party would move the Supreme Court against the Patna High Court verdict.

He said the CPI-ML would also appeal to the apex court to appoint a special investigation team (SIT) on the lines of the one that probed the 2002 Gujarat riots for giving justice to victims of massacre cases in Bihar.

"The Supreme Court should take cognizance of the acquittal of the massacre convicts and order an impartial probe under its direct supervision," he said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Of those acquitted, 16 were sentenced to death and 10 were awarded life imprisonment in 2010 by the Additional District and Sessions Judge of Patna.

"A bench of Justice BN Sinha of the Patna High Court acquitted them on the basis of lack of evidence against them in the charge sheet filed by police," Amrendra Kumar, a lawyer, said.

Ranvir Sena men had allegedly carried out the massacre 1 December, 1997. According to police, charges were framed 23 December, 2008, against 44 men of the Ranvir Sena for killing Dalits, including 27 women and 10 children.

Police records showed four Dalit families were completely wiped out in the bloodbath.

Laxmanpur-Bathe is situated on the banks of the Sone river in Jehanabad district.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government then, led by Rabri Devi, set up the Amir Das Commission to probe the political connections of the Ranvir Sena. But Chief Minister Nitish Kumar wrapped up the commission after coming to power in 2006.

Opposition parties, including the RJD and the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML), alleged that the Nitish Kumar government was protecting the interests of the Ranvir Sena and suppressing the voice of the poorest of the poor.

Last year, Ranvir Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh was killed at Ara, district headquarters of Bhojpur.

IANS

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