The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice on an appeal filed by the Bihar government against the acquittal of 23 persons accused of involvement in the 1996 carnage of Dalits at Bathani Tola village of the state.
On July 11,1996,21 landless poor,mostly women and children from the Dalit and extremely backward Muslim communities were killed allegedly by upper caste Ranvir Sena militiamen at Bathani Tola in Bhojpur district. The attack was reportedly in retaliation for the earlier killing of nine Bhumihars in Nandhi village,by the CPI(ML). Among the dead were 11 women,six children and three infants.
Though 23 of the accused were convicted for the massacre by an Ara sessions court in 2010,the Bihar High Court in April 2012 acquitted all the accused.
In doing so,the Patna High Court set aside the death sentences awarded to three persons and life imprisonment to 20 other accused for the massacre.
Along with the Bihar government,Kishun Choudhury,whose wife and two daughters had been killed in the attack,also challenged the HC decision to acquit all the accused. A Bench,led by Justice Altamas Kabir,said the two appeals need to be heard on an urgent basis,and immediately called for documents from the trial court.
The HC had found no evidence against the accused which proved their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.