They were released for “lack of adequate evidence”

The Patna High Court on Friday acquitted 11 persons accused in the Nagari Bazaar massacre case in which 10 Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) supporters were killed in Bihar’s Bhojpur district in 1998.

A court in Ara, Bhojpur, in 2010 sentenced three of the accused to death while sentencing eight others to life. The perpetrators, allegedly from the Ranvir Sena, reportedly surrounded a village on the night of November 11, 1998 and gunned down the 10 CPI (ML) supporters. The incident was part of the ongoing war between the Sena and the CPI (ML) during the bloody 1990s.

A division bench of Justices Amaresh Kumar Lal and V.N. Sinha acquitted the 11 on the ground of “lack of adequate evidence,” Kanhaiya Prasad Singh, defence lawyer of four accused in the case told The Hindu. “The court found that the evidence proffered was false and there was no eyewitness in the case,” he said.

“All the appellants are directed to be released forthwith, if not wanted in any other case,” the court judgment states.

After the incident, an FIR was registered against 55 persons, of whom 16 were chargesheeted. An additional district sessions judge acquitted four, while one died during the trial. After the Ara court sentenced the remaining 11 in 2010, they appealed before the Patna High Court.

This is the second major acquittal in a massacre case. Last year, the High Court acquitted all the 23 accused in the 1996 Bathani Tola massacre case.