Bihar Police said on Saturday they have arrested 11 people, including the mastermind behind the massacre of 16 people, including five children, in Khagaria district two days ago and more arrests would be made soon.
Additional Director General of Police (headquarters) Neelmani said the mastermind behind the massacre O.P. Mahto had been arrested and was being interrogated along with the others. "Police have got some vital information about the incident and more arrests will be made soon," he said.
Meanwhile, opposition parties Saturday organised a shutdown in Khagaria to protest the massacre. "It was a total shutdown in Khagaria," Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Ram Kirpal Yadav said.
Police have admitted 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.
Khagaria Superintendent of Police Indranand Mishra said that raids were continuing to arrest more people involved in the incident. "The combing operation is on by a joint team of security forces, including Bihar Military Police, Special Task Force and Special Auxiliary Police in Khagaria and neighbouring districts," Mishra said.
Police said they were looking for over 50 people who took part in the slaughter, including nearly two dozen from Amausi village.
"About 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," police sources said.
Khagaria District Magistrate Abhay Singh admitted that the incident had led to tension in the area but matters were under control Saturday. "We are doing everything to maintain peace in the area," he said.
The killings have been blamed on the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist. The victims were from the Kurmi caste and 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 after sustaining gunshot injuries.
Police have deployed a large number of security personnel in the village and neighbouring areas to prevent any retaliatory attack by members of the Kurmi community, the caste to which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar belongs.