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Partial shutdown in Bihar over acquittals in Dalit massacre

Road and rail traffic in Bihar was partly hit Friday during a shutdown called by the CPI-ML to protest against the acquittal of 24 people in the massacre of 22 Dalits in 1999.

The shutdown was called in Arwal and Jehanabad districts over the killings in Shankar Bigha village.

Hundreds of activists of the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist squatted on rail tracks, halted several trains at the Jehanabad railway station, officials said.

Road traffic was affected in both the districts as activists blocked national highways, police said.

Markets and business establishments in Jehanabad and Arwal towns remained closed as thousands of party workers and supporters protested to enforce their strike.

Outlawed Ranvir Sena men had allegedly killed 22 Dalits Jan 25, 1999, in Shankar Bigha village in then Jehanabad district. The Sena was a private army of landed upper caste Bhumihars. Arwal district was announced after the massacre.

The victims were Dalit landless agricultural workers.

Shankar Bigha is located near Lakshmanpur-Bathe where the Ranvir Sena killed 61 agricultural workers belonging to backward communities in December 1997.

Last year, the CPI-ML had launched a signature campaign to protest against the acquittal of dozens of accused in four caste massacres in Bihar.

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