Bihar to move apex court against massacre case acquittal

Patna, April 18 (IANS) Bihar will file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Patna High Court verdict acquitting 23 men convicted for the 1996 massacre of 21 people by the upper-caste Ranvir Sena in Bhojpur district, a minister said Wednesday.

Bihar Schedule Castes/Schedule Tribes Welfare Minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi said here that the government will file an appeal in the apex court against the high court judgment.

"The government will challenge the high court verdict by producing documents related to evidence against the accused," Manjhi said.

The high court Monday acquitted three massacre convicts sentenced to death and 20 given life sentence. They were convicted by the Ara sessions court and sentenced in May 2010.

The Bathani Tola village in Sahar block of the district was targeted by armed members of the Ranvir Sena who butchered 21 people, mostly Dalits and poor Muslims July 11, 1996.

Manjhi's statement came a day after hundreds of people in Bihar took to the streets against the acquittal. The protesters were led by the workers and leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML), which termed the judgment sad, shocking and shameful.

CPI-ML leader Ramji Rai demanded that the Supreme Court take cognizance of the acquittal of the massacre convicts and order an impartial probe under its direct supervision.

According to reports received here, families of the massacre victims also expressed disappointment over the acquittals.