Laxmanpur Bathe is a village in Arwal district in Bihar state, India, on the river Son, about 125–km from Patna. It is most known for the massacre that took place on 1 December 1997, where 58 Dalits, low-caste people, were allegedly killed by members of the Ranvir Sena, a militia of upper caste Bhumihar landlords of the state.
1997 Laxmanpur Bathe massacre
The village was the site of a massacre of 58 Dalits allegedly by the upper-caste Ranvir Sena on the night of 1 December 1997. Luxmanpur Bathe,125 km from Patna and along the banks of Sone, was targeted because Ranvir Sena members believed the village's Dalits, mostly poor and landless, were sympathizers of the Maoists behind the killing of 37 upper caste men in Bara in Gaya district in 1992. Ranvir Sena, a militia of upper caste landlords, was created by Bhumihars to take on the Naxalites, who had several Dalits as foot soldiers.
58 Dalits were gunned down including 27 women and 16 children by the Ranvir Sena at Laxmanpur Bathe in Jehanabad on 1 December 1997, sending shock waves across the country. The Lalu Prasad-led RJD government was then ruling the state.In the well-planned operation, about 100 Ranbir Sena activists carrying firearms had descended on Lakshmanpur Bathe at around 11 pm. They forced their way into huts by breaking open the doors and fired indiscriminately at people who were asleep. The entire hamlet located on the banks of the Sone river was virtually decimated in the attack that lasted more than three hours. The youngest victim was one-year-old.
The then President K R Narayanan had expressed his shock and dismay over the mass murder of 58 Dalits in Central Bihar. In his strong-worded reaction, he had termed the massacre as one of the most shameful incidents in independent India.
On 7 April 2010, the Additional District and Sessions Judge Vijai Prakash Mishra of the Patna Civil Court sentenced 16 men to death and 10 to life imprisonment for the massacre. While pronouncing the verdict, sessions judge Mishra described the killings as a “stigma on civil society and rarest of rare cases of brutality.
Only in December 2008 were charges made against 46 Ranvir sena men. Sessions Judge Mishra, on conclusion of trial in the case on 1 April, fixed 7 April 2010 as the date for announcing the verdict. Earlier, the case was transferred to Patna from Jehanabad following a Patna High Court order in October 1999.
Some commented that The High Court judgement did not got the media attention it merited in the media. There was an angry reaction from the Bihar government and various political parties in the state. The government replied that it will appeal against the order, while the left parties termed the verdict as “unacceptable” and asked the Nitish Kumar government to immediately file an appeal against it. The CPI-ML criticised the state government and said that it would appeal in the apex court to appoint the SIT(special investigation team) probing all the massacre cases in Bihar. The Aam Aadmi Party released the statement protesting the result which could shake people's faith in the judiciary. Other state parties LJP and RJD demanded CBI investigation in High Court's decision and alleged that the state government is protecting the interests of Ranvir Sena.
Maoists called for a 24 hour strike against the court's decision in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district, and the police advised that the banks and shops did remain closed. Seven people, including one suspected member from the Ranvir Sena, were killed in Aurangabad on 18 October. The Dalits in the area feared that there may be a retaliation from the Ranvir Sena.
- 1996 Bathani Tola Massacre
- Caste-related violence in India
- List of massacres in India