“Can somebody tell me why even 16 years after the Ranveer Sena brutally murdered my family members, including my six-month-old daughter, the perpetrators are still unpunished? Yet when Brahmeshwar Mukhiya, who supervised the killing was killed, immediately a CBI inquiry was ordered by the Nitish Kumar Government,” is the question Mohammad Naeemuddin Ansari, a survivor and witness of the Bathani Tola massacre, asked while narrating the “horror of the most tragic day” of his life at the “Convention on Justice for Bathani Tola 1996: Punish the Guilty” organised in Delhi on Sunday.
“It was around 2 a.m. when a mob of assailants armed with firearms and swords came to the Dalit village of Bathani Tola from the neighbouring Badki Khadanv village. I along with few other residents of the village, who had been hiding in the nearby area, had asked our family members to hide in a few nearby huts. We could see the mob coming and burning the houses in which our women and children were hiding,” said Mr. Ansari, whose six family members, including his wife, two daughters, a daughter-in-law and a son were killed by the Ranveer Sena men.
Mr. Ansari, who broke down while recounting how the mob chopped off his son, said he had never expected the upper caste army would target women and children.
Mr. Ansari, who works in the circle office in Ara, talked about how Bathani Tola villagers had repeatedly petitioned the police for protection, in view of daily attacks and threats. “There were three police pickets close to Bathani Tola as a result of the ongoing tension. Yet the police deliberately turned a blind eye while the Ranveer Sena men were on a killing spree in the Dalit village.”
Highlighting the police bias during the trial of the case since the Bihar Government had registered cases of murder against Ranveer Sena men, Sri Kishun Choudhury, another survivor of the massacre, described how the police colluded with the Ranveer Sena men in order to weaken the case and sabotage the evidences against them.
“The police has been so biased that three of them deposed as witnesses to save the killers. Now tell me how we can expect justice from this Government. And then the Patna High Court judge considers us ‘liars’ and ‘bad witnesses’ because we are alive,” said Mr. Chaudhary, while referring to the argument made by the Patna High Court judge before acquitting the accused of the massacre where he refused to accept the statement of the survivors, saying they would have died had they witnessed the massacre.
“If the judiciary failed to deliver justice to us, it will have to answer who brutally butchered our family members if not the killers from the Ranveer Sena,” said Mr. Chaudhary.
Mr. Choudhury, who lost two daughters and his wife in the massacre, said because he did not trust the Nitish Kumar Government, so he filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against the Patna High Court verdict which overturned a Ara sessions court order convicting 23 men for the massacre. “How can I trust this Government which gave the bail to Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh, the architect of the massacre and which disbanded the Amir Das Commission, which was constituted to probe political linkages of the Ranveer Sena.”
“Bathani Tola was targeted by the Ranveer Sena because its residents resisted and raised voice against the diktats of the feudal landlords,” Mr. Ansari said, adding even after 16 years he has not lost hope for justice.