Tuesday, 29 November 2016
The 80-year-old death-row convict lodged in a solitary confinement of Bhagalpur Central Jail for over 18 years is awaiting death. Similar is the condition of 71-year-old Veer Kuer Paswan, who has been incarcerated in the same prison for 23 years.
They and two others, Krishna Mochi and Dharmendra Singh, were awarded capital punishment for massacre at Bara village in Gaya district of Bihar in February 1992 in which 35 people belonging to Upper caste Bhumihar were killed. First convicted by a TADA designated court and then confirmed by the Supreme Court, these four are among 11 convicts waiting for death.
The Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) organised a symposium in Patna against the death penalty and demanded that the law should be abolished. “Discrimination against the poor and in favour of the rich, privileged and powerful continues to haunt every nook of the criminal justice system. The penalty of death brings this out in the most startling manner,” said the report of the PUDR.
Gautam Naulakha, a member of the PUDR added, “Upper caste convicts are acquitted by the courts due to class, caste and communal bias.” The speaker said that 130 countries have abolished death penalty, while about two dozen countries have stopped awarding this punishment despite having a legal provision.
Highlighting what he alleged “judicial discrimination”, State president of Nagrik Adhikar Sangharsh Samiti Dinesh Kumar Aakela alleged that the cadre of the erstwhile Ranvir Sena, a private army of Bhumihar landowners who were accused of killing lower caste poor at Shankar Bigha, Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe, Nagri Bazar and Miyapur, were acquitted by the court, while four poor people are condemned to death in the Bara case and their mercy petitions sent twice to the President were not entertained.
Recently a lower court awarded capital punishment to 11 farmers for the carnage of Upper caste people at Senari village. “Of those awarded death sentence so far in the country, 76 per cent belonged to Dalit and lower caste people,” said Debaditya Bhattacharya of Kolkata University. During the past two decade, Bihar courts awarded death to 150 Dalits and backward caste people, added Naulakha.
In October 2013, a division Bench of the Patna High Court acquitted all the 26 convicts, 16 of whom were awarded death by the trial court, in connection with the worst ever massacre of 58 Dalit men, women and toddlers by the Ranvir Sena at Laxmanpur Bathe on December 1, 1997.
Noted Dalit scholar and a retired Bihar cadre IAS officer AK Biswas commented, “It may not be an exaggeration to say that the expectations of Dalits and tribal lay shattered. The victims of massacres carried out by the Ranvir Sena cry in wilderness for justice. Their concerns have not been addressed by the judiciary. We find that caste, uncle judges and their affection for nephews and nieces, bribes or corruption and governance by coalition in the political system too are antagonistic to the delivery of even handed justice to the Dalits.”
Courtesy: The Pioneer-