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Citing lack of evidence, a Bihar court Monday acquitted three men sentenced to death and 20 given life imprisonment for the 1996 massacre in Bathani Tola in which 21 people, mainly women and children, were killed by members of the upper caste Ranvir Sena.

“The high court acquitted them on the basis of lack of evidence against them in the charge sheet by police,” a court official said.

Two years ago, the additional district and sessions judge of Ara civil court had pronounced the sentences against the 23 after they were convicted in the case.

The Bathani Tola village, in Sahar block of Bhojpur district, was targeted by armed members of the Ranvir Sena who butchered 21 people, mostly Dalits and poor Muslims.

A police officer associated with the probe said the charges were framed against 62 members of Ranvir Sena under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act.

Dalit survivor Kishun Chaudhary had lodged a case against 33 people, following which police filed a charge sheet against 63, including Ranvir Sena chief Barmeshwar Singh who was declared absconder.

Barmeshwar Singh was later arrested and is currently lodged in a jail.



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