Jan 19: Dalits angry as Bihar court acquits 24 accused in 1999 massacre

January 19, 2015

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/dalits-angry-bihar-court-acquits-24-accused-1999-massacre-case/1/413339.html

Dalits angry as Bihar court acquits 24 accused in 1999 massacre

Family members of the Dalits who were killed in 1999 in Bihar’s Arwal
district, allegedly by activists of outlawed Ranvir Sena, are
disheartened over the release of all the accused.

Additional District Court judge Raghvendra Kumar Singh on Tuesday
acquitted 24 accused in Shankarbigha massacre case for lack of
sufficient evidence against them.

Etwaria Devi, in her late 50s, lost her husband Ganga Paswan and
another relative Nanhu Paswan in the massacre of 22 Dalits on January
25, 1999, at Shankar Bigha village.

The surviving family members are not only upset and sad over the
verdict, they are also angry and feel there is nobody to do them
justice.

“There is no one to do justice to the poor like us. We have only pain
and misery in our life,” said Etwaria Devi in a choked voice.

Another resident of the village, Rajmani Devi, whose husband,
father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law were killed in the
massacre, said: “Who cares for justice to the poor? We have lost hope.
It is bad news for us that all accused were acquitted.”

Both of them said they have no hope left as money and muscle power of
the powerful feudal forces were responsible for the gruesome incident.

Lakshman Ram, a village elderly, said most of the villagers were
unhappy and angry over the court acquittal.

“The villagers are not ready to accept that the accused have been let
off…,” said villager Ram, who also had lost a relative.

He also blamed the police and the state government for the acquittals.
“The police did not file a strong chargesheet with solid evidence
against them…,” he claimed.

All the Dalit victims were landless agricultural workers.

Shankar Bigha is located near Lakshmanpur-Bathe where the Ranvir Sena
killed 61 agricultural workers belonging to backward communities in
December 1997.

This is the fifth major acquittal in a massacre case in the state.

In 2012, the high court acquitted 23 accused of Bathani Tola massacre
of 1996 in which 21 Dalits were killed.

On October 9, 2013, the Patna High Court acquitted 26 accused of the
Lakshmanpur-Bathe massacre of 1997.

On July 3, 2013, the high court acquitted nine of the 10 accused in
the Miyanpur massacre case of 2000 in which the Ranvir Sena men
allegedly killed 32 people in Aurangabad.

On March 1, 2013, the high court acquitted 11 convicted accused in the
Nagari Bazaar massacre case in which 10 CPI-ML supporters, mostly
Dalits, were killed in Bhojpur district in 1998.