Two senior police officials in Bihar have been suspended following Thursday night's massacre of 16 people, including five children, by suspected Maoists in Khagaria district, an official said on Sunday.
"The government has suspended Superintendent of Police Indranand Mishra and sub divisional police officer Ajay Kumar Pandey for dereliction of duty Saturday night," said principal home secretary Amir Subhani.
Police sources said more suspects would be detained following the arrest of 11 people, including the mastermind behind the massacre O P Mahto.
"Police have got some vital information about the incident and more arrests will be made soon as intensive combing operations are underway in the riverine areas of Khagaria," an official said.
"The search operation is being carried out by a joint team of security forces, including Bihar Military Police, Special Task Force and Special Auxiliary Police in Khagaria and neighbouring districts," he added.
Police have said that Thursday night's massacre appeared to be due to a dispute over ownership of land.
It took place in Amausi village in Khagaria district, about 200 km north of Patna. All the victims belonged to the Kurmi caste and were from Amba Ichwara village, a few kilometres from the incident site. The attackers had tied their hands and feet before shooting them dead.
The killings have been blamed on the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist. The Maoists were from the Sada (Mushahar), a Mahadalit caste in Bihar considered poorest of the poor, who are usually landless.
Police also got some information from Paro Singh, the lone survivor and witness who managed to save his life by pretending to be dead.
Additional Director General of Police (headquarters) Neelmani said Mahto had revealed during interrogation that the massacre was planned at the residence of Amausi mukhiya (the village head) Sep 14. Those who attended the meeting had resolved to take possession of the disputed land at any cost.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had directed Subhani and Neelmani to set up a police outpost at Amausi. He also asked the police to provide security to Paro Singh.
Police said they were looking for over 50 people who were involved in the massacre, including nearly two dozen from Amausi village.
"In all, 37 people have been named as accused in the FIR lodged with Markuhi police station in connection with the massacre and 25 unidentified people also figure in the complaint," a police source said.