The Patna High Court on Friday acquitted all 13 people convicted in a two decades old case of massacre, one of the bloodiest that took place when many districts of Bihar were in the throes of violence unleashed by Maoist groups and private militia of landlords. The order was passed by a division bench headed by Justice Anjani Kumar Singh, which allowed the appeal of the accused, setting aside the trial court orders passed in November, 2016 whereby the petitioners had been convicted and awarded death sentence in connection with the carnage at Senari village.
Altogether, 34 upper caste persons were hacked to death on March 19, 1999 by members of the outlawed Maoist Communist Centre at the non-descript village, which was then a part of Jehanabad district but now falls in Arwal, carved out later. In the FIR lodged subsequently, family members of the deceased had named the accused and the matter was tried before the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Jehanabad.
The high court, however, was of the view "the burden of proof of guilt of an accused is upon the prosecution. It must stand by itself. In the present case… there is a real and reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the appellant". It was widely believed that the MCC had struck at Senari to avenge the killing of more than 60 of its alleged sympathisers at Laxmanpur Bathe less than two years ago, when the dreaded Ranvir Sena had carried out the worst ever carnage in the history of the state.
Notably, all 26 people convicted in Laxmanpur Bathe case were similarly acquitted by the High Court in 2013 for want of evidence.