Voice of protest after Bara death sentence

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  • Published 16.05.04

Patna, May 16: Social activists today launched a protest against the recent confirmation of death sentences on four convicts in the Bara massacre case at Gaya by the Supreme Court and issued an appeal to seek mercy for them from President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Hundreds of suspected activists of the Maoist Communist Centre had surrounded Bara village in Gaya district on February 12, 1992, and killed a large number of persons, most of them Bhumihars, an upper caste.

At a meeting in Patna today, those protesting the death term said the confirmation of the sentence had come by a divided bench (two to one) of the apex court. Those handed over the death penalty are Vir Kunwar Paswan, Krishna Mochi, Dharu Singh and Nanhe Lal Mochi.

Senior social activist Razi Ahmad said, “If we cannot provide life to anyone, we have no right to take away an individual’s life. In the present case, those awarded the death penalty are poor farmers.”

The activists, who had come together under the banner of the Phansi Virodhi Manch (anti-death penalty forum), said it was strange that 98 per cent of the death penalties in Bihar and Jharkhand were awarded to people who were poor, Dalit or were from the minority community.

A spokesperson said Bihar and Jharkhand have witnessed more than 200 massacres in which more than 1,000 people have been killed. “The massacres have been effected by private armies like Ranvir Sena, Lorik Sena, Bhoomi Sena, Sawarna Liberation Front and Sunlight Sena. It is confounding that none of the accused of these massacres have been awarded the death sentence,” he added.

The Ranvir Sena, another activist said, has conducted nearly 50 massacres, including the one at Laxmanpur-Bathe in which 58 villagers had been butchered. “The head of the Ranvir Sena, Brahmeshwar Singh, contested the recent Lok Sabha election. The head of Sawarna Liberation Front, Ramadhar Singh alias Diamond, enjoys open political patronage. Most of the perpetrators of these massacres have been let free while some have been awarded mild penalties,” he added.

The activists argued that nearly 1,000 people were involved in the Bara killings and so identifying the actual killers was impossible. “According to the police diary, Tekari police station personnel got information of the Bara incident at around 9 pm but they reached the spot at 1 am. Police recorded the statement of Shrawan Kumar, present on the spot, as an FIR, but this document was destroyed. Later, the police recorded an FIR on the basis of a statement made by Satyendra Kumar Sharma, in which many such persons were named who had no connection with the killing. Satyendra Sharma never appeared before the court,” the spokesperson said.

“The confessional statement of Bihari Manjhi of Gafa village was presented as evidence in the court. The statement was recorded by a police inspector, not a police superintendent, in violation of the provisions of TADA. The statement was submitted before the special TADA court after five years. The statement was highly suspect because Bihari Manjhi denied making it,” he added.