Patna: Hundreds of people in Bihar
took to the streets Tuesday against a Patna High Court verdict
acquitting 23 men convicted for the 1996 massacre of 21 people,
mostly women and children, by the upper-caste Ranvir Sena in
The Patna High Court had Monday acquitted the three sentenced to
death and 20 given life sentence. They had been convicted by the
Ara sessions court and sentenced in May 2010.
The Bathani Tola village, in Sahar block of Bhojpur district, was
targeted by armed members of the Ranvir Sena who butchered 21
people, mostly Dalits and poor Muslims on July 11, 1996.
On Tuesday, the day after the court acquitted them and also
directed that all of them be released, hundreds of angry people,
mostly family members of the massacre victims, protested at Ara,
the district headquarters of Bhojpur, about 60 km from Patna, and
in several other places like Gaya, Aurangabad and Arwal.
"The slogan shouting protesters blocked Ara-Patna road and
threatened to launch a campaign to seek justice for victims of the
massacre following the court judgement," a police official in Ara
The protesters were led by the workers and leaders of the
Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML), which termed
the judgement sad, shocking and shameful.
"The party workers held demonstrations across the state against
the judgement and demanded justice for the victims," CPI-ML state
secretary Kunal said.
The protests were held in all the district headquarters, Kunal
added. Hundreds of people protested the high court judgment in
these cities, he said.
Kunal said the ruling was a cruel joke for the poor people who had
been waiting for justice for the last 16 years.
Citing lack of evidence, the high court had Monday reversed the
order of the lower court on grounds of lack of evidence in the
The state government will file an appeal against the Patna High
Court judgement. "The government will approach against it in the
apex court" Additional Director General of Police (headquarters)
Ravindra Kumar said.