Calcutta, April 29: The stomping of a goat on a paddy field had led to three deaths almost 19 years ago.
Today, the high court upheld the life terms of 29 people charged with the murders at Brojo Ballavpur village in Moyna, East Midnapore.
The trial court had sentenced 39 people to life. Seven of them were set free today. Three others died of old age during the trial.
The high court asked the convicts, who are now out on bail, to surrender before the trial court.
Police have no clue about the goat at the root of the bloodbath and life for 29.
On May 14, 1986, Subal Garai's goat had strayed into Hemanta Dhara's paddy field and destroyed crops.
To avenge the loss, Hemanta caught hold of Subal's eight-year-old son Gopal, tied up his limbs and left him in the field. An enraged Subal then stormed Hemanta's house with about 80 others. The armed mob set fire to several huts.
Hemanta and neighbours Gour Dhara and Manik Dhara were beaten to death and at least 30 others from both sides were seriously wounded.
The next day, one of Hemanta's sons lodged a complaint with the Moyna police station, about 75 km from Calcutta, naming 45 villagers.
Five years ago, the district and sessions' judge of Midnapore ' then an undivided district ' convicted Subal and 38 others. All of them moved the high court, which released them on bail.
A division bench of Justice Aloke Kumar Basu and Justice Pranab Kumar Deb today confirmed the sentences of Subal and 28 others.
The bench observed that the prosecution had failed to prove the guilt of Suman Garai and six other villagers, who were convicted earlier, and absolved them of the murder charges.