Twentyfive years after the Bara massacre in Tekari block of Bihar’s Gaya district, the scars of the ghastly incident are still fresh.
“They are too deep to be healed and will forever remain etched in our memory. President Pranab Mukherjee’s recent order commuting the death sentence of four persons convicted of killing 35 upper caste men on February 13, 1992 has only opened up fresh wounds,” said survivors of the horrific carnage that followed a series of caste-related violence in the state.
“It has reminded us of the ghastly incident. We respect the President’s decision, but justice has eluded us for 25 years. Relatives of 11 victims are yet to be employed on compassionate ground, as promised by the then government,” said former sarpanch Madan Sharma, who lost his uncle in the carnage.
Yogendra Sharma, who sustained injuries in the incident, said the decision had revived the memories of the dreadful night.
“Nearly a thousand Maoists arrived at Bara village and asked all male members to assemble at a temple for meeting at around 9 pm. What happened after that was heart-rending. They tried to slit my throat also, but by the God’s grace, I survived,” he recalled. Two of the seven others, who survived with him, later succumbed to their injuries.
Some other villagers said most of the promises made following the massacre had remained unfulfilled. “We will never get justice. The delay has denied justice to us,” said one of them.
In a rare gesture, the President recently set aside the Union home ministry’s recommendation and commuted the death sentence of four Bara massacre convicts.
The Gaya district and sessions court had awarded death sentence to Krishna Mochi, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Bir Kuer Paswan and Dharmendra Singh alias Dharu Singh on June 8, 2001 in connection with the massacre allegedly by the Maoist Communist Centre, now CPI (Maoist). The Supreme Court endorsed the death sentence in April 2002.
The Union home ministry, based on recommendations of the Bihar government, had recommended on August 8, 2016 that the mercy petitions of all the four be rejected. The President, however, commuted their death sentence.
Officials at Bhagalpur Central Jail, where they are currently lodged, said the mercy petitions of the death row convicts were dispatched to the President on March 3, 2003.
Meanwhile, Krishna Mochi’s wife Chandramani Devi and Paswan’s brother Karu expressed happiness at the President’s decision.
The Bara massacre is believed to be the fallout of six previous killings in 1990-91 in which 59 Scheduled Caste men and agricultural labourers were killed.
In 1997, the upper castes allegedly carried out a revenge attack for the Bara massacre, leaving 58 Dalits dead in Lakshmanpur-Bathe. In the Lakshmanpur-Bathe case, incidentally, all the 26 upper caste accused convicted by a lower court were acquitted by the Patna high court on grounds of inadequate evidence.