The Supreme Court on Monday accepted the Bihar government’s plea challenging the acquittal of 13 Maoists by Patna High Court, accused of the killing of 34 upper-caste people in the 1999 Senari massacre.
Out of the 13, 10 were sentenced to death by the trial court. The Supreme Court has asked the state to serve notice to all the acquitted accused persons.
Patna High Court in its judgment had acquitted the 13 accused citing a lack of adequate evidence. All 13 were released from jail after the two-member bench of Justice Ashwani Kumar Singh and Justice Arvind Srivastava also cast doubts over the identification process of the accused despite the witnesses identifying them in the court.
Bihar’s advocate General Lalit Kishor immediately after Patna High Court’s verdict had given an indication of filing an appeal in the Supreme Court. In a media statement, he said, “I have suggested to the state government through the department of law that an appeal should be filed before the Supreme Court. And an appeal will be filed at the earliest.”
The night of the massacre
On the night of 18 March 1999, 500-600 militants of the banned Maoist Communist Center (MCC) entered the village of Senari, dragged the Bhumihar men out of their homes, divided them into three groups and slit their throats and stomach. The Senari village now falls in Arwal district, which was created later.
Dainik Bhaskar in an interview with the survivors and eyewitnesses had reported the account when one Rakesh Sharma narrated that he was hit hard by the Maoists who were intoxicated and that they went around slashing throats. Another survivor shared that he too was beaten up by the attackers but was thrown in a pile of dead bodies in a rush.
The period of massacres
The Senari massacre is said to be a fallout of the Laxamanpur-Bathe massacre in which 57 Dalits were killed in 1997. The Dalit victims of the Laxamanpure Bathe massacre too have been raising voices for justice, not being fully satisfied by the trial.
Of the 91 massacres between 1977 and 2000, 76 took place between 1990 and 2000, in which over 350 people were killed. Districts of central Bihar such as Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad and the Shahabad region of Bhojpur were the worst affected.