Massacred by Ranveer Sena in Laloo’s Bihar – Massacred Judicially in Nitish Regime!

ON 11 July 1996, a private army of upper caste landlords (Ranveer Sena) brutally massacred people 21 (11 women; five girls below 10 years; four boys below 8 years; and one man) in the hamlet of Bathani Tola of Bhojpur (Bihar), most of whom were dalit and Muslim landless poor. The massacre began at 2 in the afternoon, and for the next three hours, assailants from the neighbouring Badki Khadanv village set fire to huts, slashed at women and children with swords, and fired shots. There was a police station a mere 100 metres away, and 3 other police camps about 1-2 kms away in different directions. But no police interrupted the dance of death, and Bathani Tola was left to defend itself.

An Ara sessions court in 2010 convicted 23 for the massacre, sentencing 3 to death and 20 to life. And in April 2012, the Bihar High Court acquitted all 23. The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar State Government has announced that it will challenge the acquittal in the Supreme Court. But its real intentions behind this formal posture can be gauged by the comments of one of its Ministers Giriraj Singh, who has opined that the “Bathani Tola massacre case should be nipped in the bud. The issue should not be discussed any more as it could vitiate the atmosphere.” Yet again, this episode illustrates the pro-feudal foundations of the Nitish Government that underlie its pro-poor posturing and rhetoric of ‘Justice with Development.’


“Who Butchered 21 in Broad Daylight?”

Nayeemuddin Ansari, one of the survivors and key witnesses, who lost 6 women and children of his family in the carnage, asks, “Who killed 21 people that afternoon, if it wasn’t those we named in the FIR?” Nayeemuddin, Srikishun Choudhury, Radhika Devi, Marwari Choudhury, Lal Chand Choudhury, and other survivors, ask: “Who will take responsibility for our lives, now that all those we gave evidence against are free?”

But the answer to those questions is one that feudal-communal forces and their political patrons seek to suppress and erase from history. But the survivors of Bathani Tola are not just victims – they were, and are, fighters, who refuse to be defeated or silenced. The memorial to the martyrs of Bathani Tola will not allow those 21 innocents to be forgotten – and the quest for justice for those 21 will continue.

So, who killed 21 at Bathani Tola and why?

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