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16 get death sentence in Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre
Patna, Apr 7 (IANS)
Published on 7 Apr. 2010 11:45 PM IST
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A court here Wednesday sentenced to death 16 men and awarded life imprisonment to eight others who were convicted in the Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre in which 58 Dalits were killed by upper caste Ranvir Sena men in Bihar in 1997.
The sentence was pronounced by Additional District and Sessions Judge of the Patna Civil Court Vijay Prakash Mishra. The judge convicted 24 accused and acquitted 17 men due to lack of evidence, a court official said. A police officer associated with the probe said charges were framed against 44 men of the Ranvir Sena on Dec 23, 2008 on charges of killing 58 people, including 27 women and 10 children. During the hearing, 91 of the 152 witnesses deposed before the court.
Forty-seven people have been accused in the case but three are absconding. Laxmanpur-Bathe, situated on the banks of the Sone river in Jehananabad district, was targeted by armed Ranvir Sena men, who butchered Dalits to death on Dec 1, 1997. According to police records, four Dalit families were completely wiped out in the bloodbath. Soon after the Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre, the state government then led by Rabri Devi set up the Amir Das Commission to probe the political connections of the Ranvir Sena.
But the commission was wrapped up by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar soon after he came to power in 2006. Opposition parties, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML), alleged that the Nitish Kumar government was protecting the interests of the Ranvir Sena and suppressing the voice of the poorest of the poor.

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