The Supreme Court on Monday accepted the Bihar government’s plea challenging the acquittal of 13 Maoists by Patna High Court, who were accused of the killing of 34 upper-caste people in the 1999 Senari massacre. Although the poison of Naxalism is slowly ending, some wounds never heal.
Earlier, in this case, the trial court had sentenced 10 out of 13 accused to death. While 3 were sentenced to life imprisonment, Those who were awarded the death penalty are Bacchesh Singh, Buddhan Yadav, Butai Yadav, Satendra Das, Lallan Pasi, Dwarika Paswan, Kariban Paswan, Godai Paswan, Uma Paswan and Gopal Paswan, but the High Court acquitted all. 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.
Tracing the massacre back on 18 March 1999, militants of the banned Maoist Communist Center (MCC) entered the village of Senari and 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 the Arwal district, which was created later. As reported by Dainik Bhaskar in an interview, the survivors and eyewitnesses had reported the account when one survivor 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.
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.
Yet again after so many years, now the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the matter while accepting the petition of the Bihar government. The Bihar government had filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding that all the 13 accused, who were acquitted by the High Court should be asked to surrender. The Supreme Court agreed on this matter and has allowed the petition. This case will be opened yet again and all those accused have to undergo trial.
It is worth noting that out of about 70 accused in this case, 4 have died. At the same time, many witnesses have also died. Chinta Devi was one of the witnesses who died, based on her statement, 50 people of the village were accused. The matter will be taken over by the bench of Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Krishna Murari of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear against the decision of the High Court, but now the biggest challenge before the Bihar government is to find the evidence based on which the accused will be punished, and we can hope justice is served.