Patna: 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 and Sessions Judge Raghvendra Kumar Singh of Jehanabad district civil court on 13 January acquitted 24 accused in Shankarbigha massacre case citing lack of 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.
Outlawed Ranvir Sena men had allegedly killed 22 Dalits Jan 25, 1999, in Shankar Bigha village in Jehanabad. The Sena was a private army of landed upper caste Bhumihars.
The victims were landless agricultural workers and were all Dalits.
Police had filed an FIR against 29 accused in the case.
Shankar Bigha is located near Lakshmanpur-Bathe where the Ranbir Sena killed 61 agricultural workers belonging to backward communities in December 1997.
(With inputs from IndiaToday)