Patna: The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML) will move the Supreme Court against the Patna High Court verdict acquitting 23 men convicted in the 1996 massacre of 21 people by the upper-caste Ranvir Sena militia in Bhojpur. The CPI-ML will also demand the court appoint a special investigation team (SIT) on the line of the one to probe the 2002 Gujarat riots for the massacre case in Bhojpur district.

“The party in its meeting here decided to file a PIL in the Apex Court against the Patna High Court verdict acquitting 23 men convicted for the 1996 massacre of 21 people by the upper-caste Ranvir Sena,” said CPI-ML leader Kunal said.

The party has been protesting against the high court verdict for the last three days. Earlier, CPI-ML leader Ramji Rai demanded that the Supreme Court take cognizance of the acquittal of the massacre convicts and order an impartial probe under its direct supervision.

In view of hue and cry over the high court verdict, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also said that the state government will file an appeal in the Supreme Court against it.
State Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Welfare Minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi also said that the government will appeal the High Court judgment.

“The government will challenge the high court verdict by producing documents related to evidence against the accused,” Manjhi said.

The High Court on Monday acquitted three massacre convicts sentenced to death and 20 given life sentence. They were convicted by the Ara sessions court and sentenced in May 2010.The Bathani Tola village in Sahar block of the district was targeted by armed members of the Ranvir Sena who butchered 21 people, mostly Dalits and poor Muslims July 11, 1996. Manjhi's statement came a day after hundreds of people in Bihar took to the streets against the acquittal. The protesters were led by the workers and leaders of the CPI-ML, which termed the judgment sad, shocking and shameful.

According to reports, families of the massacre victims also expressed disappointment over the acquittals.

(Agencies)