By S Ahmed (NVONews.Com)
Patna: Nayeemuddin living in Arrah, sixty kilometers west of Patna is stunned. Five of his family members were butchered sixteen years back by the dreaded Ranvir Sena. He got to know on Monday that Patna High Court has acquitted all the convicted in this case.
The ‘Shaheed Smarak’ at Bahani Tola reminds that sixteen others were also massacred on that day at the same place by the same killers. But by the ruling of High Court, no one is guilty today. Even Union Home Minister P.C. is reported to be perplexed as to why there is no agitation over this issue.
On 11th of July in 1996 21 people belonging to the Dalit and Muslim community were butchered in broad day light in Bathani Tola of Bhojpur district, 43 kilometers away from the district headquarter Arrah. The perpetrators of the carnage were the members of dreaded ‘Ranvir Sena’ consisting of mainly upper caste Bhumihars.
There were 23 convictions by local court but all of them were acquitted by Patna High Court citing lack of evidence on 16th of April, 2012.
Today, there is no one legally responsible for that massacre, although Bihar government has now announced to challenge this verdict in the apex court of the country.
There was an FIR lodged at the Sahar Police Station and thirty three people were named. It took four years for the system to prepare a charge sheet in which 63 people were accused. And then it took other ten years for the local court to pronounce it verdict. It convicted 23 of them awarding death to three and life term to 20. Forty were declared no guilty.
The High Court bench consisting of Justice Navniti Prsad Singh and Justice Ashwini Kumar Singh held that the prosecution failed to prove the involvement of the accused in the crime beyond reasonable doubt.
Both the judges were regretful of the incident but they said that the investigation was not fare and it was moved in a particular direction far from the truth.
The counsel for the appellants Krishna Prasad Singh said that the charges frame against his clients were not proved. The prosecution produced 13 witnesses which included case’s investigating officer, three doctors and victims’ family members.
Barmeshwar Mukhiya, who was said to be the ‘supremo’ of now disbanded Ranvir Sena was quite elated over this verdict saying that the farmers have got justice as ‘ the then government (led by Lalu Prasad) had falsely implicated many in that case’.
Like P.C. Chidambaram many in Bihar is shocked over a not so visible agitation after the acquittal of the accused in this case though one Hindi newspaper has covered this issue quite prominently. It is really a big question to ask that this country has a big agitation over Jessica Lal murder case but acquittal of all in a massacre does not generate such agitation.
Jeetan Ram Manjhi, minister for Scheduled Castes’ and Tribes’ welfare has announced that Bihar government would challenge the acquittal in the Supreme Court. He declined to comment on High Court’s verdict but said that points would be taken care of which the High Court has raised.
Only one political party Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) is visible protesting over this acquittal. It blocked the Ara-Patna road to protest over the investigation process which resulted into the acquittal. Ashok Singh, an official of the CPI (ML) has announced that his party would challenge this verdict in the apex court.
Bathani Tola massacre was one of the most brutal incidents in the upper caste based Ranvir Sena were involved in the 80s and 90s. Upper castes people were too massacred by the opponents of Ranvir Sena.