A Bihar court on Wednesday sentenced to death three men and awarded life imprisonment to 20 others in the Bathani Tola massacre case in which 21 Dalits and poor Muslims were killed by members of the upper caste Ranvir Sena in 1996.
Additional District and Sessions Judge of Ara Civil Court Ajay Kumar Srivastava pronounced the sentence amid high security. The three sentenced to death are Ajay Singh, Manoj Singh and Narendra Singh.
The judge convicted 23 accused and acquitted 30 men due to lack of evidence May 5, a court official said.
Armed members of Ranvir Sena, who butchered 21 people, mainly women and children, to death July 11, 1996, targeted the Bathani Tola village, situated under Sahar block of Bhojpur district.
A police officer associated with the probe said charges were framed against 62 members of Ranvir Sena under different sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act.
The court officials said that the prosecution produced 13 witnesses, including three doctors and an investigating officer.
A Dalit survivor Kishun Chaudhary had lodged a case against 33 people following which the police filed charge sheet against 63 accused, include Ranvir Sena chief Barmeshwar Singh who was declared as absconder.
Barmeshwar Singh was later arrested and is currently lodged in a jail.