Patna HC sets free 26 convicted in Bihar carnage

58 dalits were killed by upper caste members

Patna HC sets free 26 convicted in Bihar carnage

 The Patna High Court on Wednesday acquitted all the 26 people convicted and awarded either death sentence or life-term jail by a lower court in the inhuman Laxmanpur Bathe carnage.

A division bench of the High Court headed by Justice B N Sinha set free all the 26 citing lack of substantial evidence against them.

In one of the worst massacres Bihar has witnessed so far, 58 dalits, including women and children, were butchered on the night of December 1, 1997, by caste landlords near Jehanabad.

Situated on the banks of river Sone, Bathe in Arwal district is about 70 km from the state capital.

On a chilly winter night, it witnessed the bloodiest carnage. Among those killed mercilessly included 19 men, 29 women and 10 children. The youngest victim was one-year-old.
Four families were completely wiped out by the suspected members of Ranveer Sena, an outlawed group nurtured by militant caste “Bhumihars”.

The then President K R Narayanan had expressed his shock and dismay over the mass murder. In a strongly worded reaction, he had termed the massacre one of the most shameful incidents in independent India.

In 2010, the then Additional District and Sessions judge B P Mishra awarded death sentence to 16 people in the case. The court also sentenced 10 others to life imprisonment.

Nearly 16 years after the carnage, the high court on Wednesday overturned the lower court order and set all the 26 convicts free.

“The poor people can’t expect justice in Nitish’s regime. We do not want to comment on today’s verdict, but we will definitely move the Supreme Court against the acquittal order of the high court,” said general secretary of CPI (Marxist-Leninist) Dipankar Bhattacharya.

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