India court frees 23 over Bihar caste killings

Map of India showing Bihar state

The High Court in the northern Indian state of Bihar has freed all 23 people convicted of killing 21 people in 1996.

The 23 were acquitted of involvement in an attack by a private militia of upper caste landowners who attacked a Dalit (formerly called Untouchables) settlement in Bhojpur district.

A lower court sentenced three of the men to death and gave life terms to the others in May 2010.

The Bihar High Court freed the 23 men because the "evidence was defective".

A number of Dalit women, teenage girls and babies were among those who were killed by a group of upper caste landlords in Bathani Tola village in Bhojpur in the incident.

The local police charged 63 persons in connection with the killings in October 1996.

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