In an embarassment to the Nitish Kumar government, a retired judge of the Patna High Court today alleged that the "masterminds" behind the 1997 carnage in Jehanabad were currently in power in the state, a charge refuted by both the ruling JD(U) and the BJP.
"There are several patrons in power in Bihar who masterminded the massacre of 58 innocent Dalits at Laxmanpur Bathe on December 1, 1997 and are going scot-free," Amir Das told PTI from Jamshedpur.
Das headed a commission instituted in 1998 by the Rabri Devi government to probe the nexus between politicians and Ranvir Sena, a private militia of landlords who executed the carnage in Jehanabad district. The commission was wound up by the Nitish Kumar government.
"The Commission was disbanded without assigning any reason though we were in the midst of preparing our final report to submit before the state government," Das said.
The step, he alleged, was taken "obviously to save the skins of the real perpetrators now in the government."
JD(U) spokesman Shivanand Tiwari dismissed as baseless the allegation of complicity of those in power in the carnage. State BJP president Radha Mohan Singh too refuted the charge.
They said since the Commission had failed to come up with its final report despite numerous extensions, it was decided to disband it.
Several politicians in power now had deposed before the Commission "which has enough evidence on record to prove that the real perpetrators were in collusion with the Sena," he claimed.
The Commission, which started proceedings in 2001 after being constituted in 1998, was allowed to file an interim report, but was disbanded in January 2006 shortly after the NDA came to power in Bihar.
Yesterday, a Bihar court had sentenced 16 of the 26 convicted in the case to death and ten others to life imprisonment.
Das claimed the verdict in the case would have been different had the Commission been allowed to complete its inquiries into the criminal-politician-Sena nexus.
Among those who deposed before the Commission were BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, C P Thakur and Water Resources Minister Rameshray Prasad Singh.
The Nitish Kumar government had disbanded the Commission saying that even after nine long years, it had failed to submit the final report though a huge amount was spent.
He suggested the state government should revive the Commission and appoint a judicial officer as its chairman afresh to go into the evidence and facts for giving final touches to the report.