The Aam Aadmi Party has expressed its outrage at the ‘miscarriage’ of justice in the 1997 Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre in Bihar, in which 58 Dalits, including 27 women and 16 children, were killed allegedly by members of the Ranvir Sena, a private militia of landlords.
Setting aside the conviction by a lower court, the Patna High Court on Wednesday acquitted all the 26 accused in the 1997 massacre.
The AAP has demanded that a special investigation team be appointed to ensure that the victims get justice.
“We are deeply saddened and outraged by the fact that all the 26 accused in this case, who were convicted on April, 2010 by the sessions judge, are acquitted now on the basis of the ‘benefit of the doubt’ by the court. This is deeply disturbing that even after 16 years of the massacre, the victims’ families have not received justice,” it said.
Terming the Bihar Government's announcement to approach the Supreme Court against the HC verdict “inadequate”, the party said the prosecution should take full responsibility for ‘mishandling’ of the case in the High Court.
Regarding Bathe massacre, one of the most brutal caste-based violence in Bihar’s history, the party said: “The massacre should serve as a strong reminder against any such future violence. But for that to happen, we need to ensure speedy and full justice to victims’ families. There are reports that the victims’ families are already being threatened by the accused.”
“It is also surprising that High Court has disbelieved the testimonies of several victims and their families as being unreliable. It is a national shame and could further erode people’s trust in the criminal justice system,” the party added,
This case also underlines the need for urgent and comprehensive police and judicial reforms in India, the party said.