Not many Bihar-watchers would
be convinced by the argument that Left politics, especially of the extreme-Left
variety, has been conditioned more by the Centrist politics arraigned
against them in space and time, rather than by their own oft-stated basic
ideological imperative: the urgency of fighting a philosophical and political
battle based on class alone. Such an assertion, in fact, would seem to
be an argument in reverse, and to critics of those who oppose the Left,
a simplistic judgemental reversal or arguments devoid of meaning. It is
worthwhile, however, even by standards of selective documentation, to
examine the processes of any change that may have been brought about in
the Left-controlled areas of Central Bihar, and the relative failure of
the extreme-Left groups to expand their effective presence out of half-a-dozen
districts over the last 30 years.1
Caste, Politics & the Cycle of Strife
The growth of Left militancy in the formative
years in the early 1970s indicates a process of consolidation in areas
where challenges by antagonistic classes were most pronounced. In areas
where such a confrontational matrix remained dormant or absent, especially
in the most impoverished regions of North Bihar, their ideology and
movement has made little headway in establishing even an effective token
presence.2 Indeed, even
in their areas of influence, temporary periods of passivity on the part
of groups that opposed them including the militant formations
such as the caste senas (armies) that sprouted and disintegrated
in quick succession in the decade beginning in the early 1980s and up
to the middle of the 1990s proved to be intervals of Left-militant
stagnation rather than periods of political consolidation.3
It may be somewhat contentious to state that a lasting peace had the
potential to destroy the Left as well as their most bitter opponents,
the extreme right kisan (farmer/peasant) formations. The fact,
nevertheless, remains that times of peace have never been the best times
for the Left groupings to foist their ideology on the people they sought
It may not be appropriate to delve into
the historical sequence of the emergence of extreme Left groups in Bihar,
and the various personalities who conditioned and controlled the movement
and prompted its rise beginning with the Telengana4
uprisings and the Naxalbari5
movement. More fruitful for our understanding is the typical Bihar situation
and model in which the Left has emerged more as a reactionary
philosophy and movement, rather than a proactive catalyst to change
a role that it may have actually willed and wished to play, but
evidently could not.
The early history of the emergence of
the militant Left in Bhojpur6
and Jehanabad7 was certainly
conditioned by some conscious policy planning that revolved around the
application of the historical demands of the Left against any feudal
order of socio-economic and political organisation. In its initial phases,
the movement did focus on dislodging the historically entrenched controlling
classes who ruled Bihar as a matter of birthright, exercising
authority through their control over all economic surplus as well as
over the influential local politics, which, in turn, cemented their
influence in the governance of the state.
On the other hand, with over four hundred
thousand marginal farmers, seasonal agricultural labourers and landless
peasants,8 who would
be easy and natural prey to the promises of a reverse model based on
equity and equality, districts like Jehanabad were fair ground to test
the waters for a Dandakaranya9
and Telengana type movement. Indeed, this should have been expected,
since the political and ideological content and direction to the Lefts
efforts at changing the status quo came from the same minds that
spurred the failed Naxalbari movement in West Bengal. However, local
leaders were slow to emerge, and consequently a constant struggle to
up the ante against entrenched landlordism became the key
element in identifying leadership, and this cumulative raising of the
stakes in the conflict became the key to the situation.10
It was the gradual process of bonding
among the agriculture dependant and weaker classes that brought about
a realisation among the controlling groups of Central Bihar that peasant
unity could be disastrous to their interest. This realisation invited
attempts at subversion at local and individual levels, with landowners
sowing the seeds of disunity among labourers by promoting select workers
and paying them higher wages to the detriment of the larger body. In
time, these policies provoked individual and isolated reactions; but
these soon gave way to crystallised anti-landlord driven common action
at the local level. These later translated into a ripple effect, as
the movement spread horizontally. Clearly, the discriminatory treatment
of labourers acted as a spur to the peasants who initiated more concerted
programmes to make the preferential wage the universal norm. Actions
that were meant to divide them created a measure of unity of purpose
among the Left groups, and the stage was set for greater confrontation.
It all started with selective retaliation by the landlords, and gradually
escalated to more unified, purposeful and violent interventions targeting
the castes that were prone to support the Left, or who were already
viewed as supporters. As the confrontations grew larger and more frequent,
direct State intervention was a foregone conclusion.11
Local landlord groups had, of course, used indirect State symbolism
from the very beginning, exploiting the local power structure, such
as the police constable, the chowkidar and the dafadar,
to create an impression of lawfulness and indirect State support to
their cause. They claimed injury to pride, local dominance and property
rights appending actual or incorrect statements of threat to their control
over their lands. These subsidiary agencies of the State were used,
as they had been for centuries, by the landed interests as a matter
of local right, since this section of the subordinate bureaucracy and
law and order machinery was historically dependant on the quantum of
transferred respect, dignity, prestige and means of livelihood that
they derived from their proximity to the erstwhile zamindar or
the modern landowner. The mukhias12
were often drawn from the higher castes or the economically powerful
personages of the area, with direct or indirect influence over the local
politician who linked them to the political power structure at Patna.
Consequently, as the local police and bureaucracy became willing, though
unconscious, tools of repression instead of remaining neutral, they
inadvertently raised the levels of confrontation and caused them over
time to embrace widening spheres of action and reaction.
The basic demands of the Left had meanwhile
revolved around the urge for equity, respect for their women, payment
of minimum wages,13
an end to the begari system,14
implementation of the Land Ceiling Act,15
re-distribution of the land held beyond ceiling limits, and equal control
over the village commons and the water bodies such as ahars and
agricultural purposes in favour of marginal farmers and bataidars.17
It was, however, not Jehanabad, but actually Purnia where the mainline
Communist Party of India (CPI) had made early forays after Independence.
And it was Purnia that saw the first caste massacre, when peasant adivasis
(tribals) were gunned down by the farm managers of the then Bihar Assembly
Speaker, L.N. Sudhanshu, in 1969.18
Till the latter half of the 1970s, confrontations
in the Jehanabad region were few and far between. But then came Pipra
and Parasbigha,19 Nonhi
and Nagwan, Belchi and Arwal20
a sequence of murders that embroiled the entire south central
and west central Bihar in a sustained conflict that culminated in Bathe
in 1997 and Senari21
Parasbigha and Belchi typified the shape of the conflict.
In the first, as the trials wound their way up the the High Court, they
laid bare the mechanisms of power and the linkages of the individuals
involved in the outrage. The Court observed that this was a typical
case where Ministers of the Bihar Government, policemen in the highest
ranks, local politicians and members of the police and bureaucracy were
together involved in gunning down peasants and marginal farmers. At
Belchi, over 22 members of the scheduled castes had been burned to death.
By the 1980s, as the animosities between the Red (Left)
groups and the elite grew, a deep polarisation in caste and community
consciousness occurred. On the one hand, the entire phalanx of the scheduled
castes were deemed Naxalites; on the other, the upper castes progressively
banded together, closing ranks, not only among the richer landlowners,
but along caste lines that embraced every rung of the social ladder,
down to the poorest of their caste-men. Thus, a Bhumihar or Kurmi landowner
was in a position to call upon all caste resources, men and material,
not only from among the locally empowered families, but also from their
poorer landless brethren.
It was through these alliances that the
Bhumihars fashioned their Brahmarishi Sena22
to combat the Reds. In this, they were directly backed by ministers
and politicians, not only from Jehanabad, but also from other regions,
on the sole basis of caste loyalties. This formation had the blessings
of King Mahendra, former MP, MLAs like Abhiram Sharma,
Sardar Krishna Singh of Arwal, Jagdish Sharma and others, with the present
Congress Legislative Party leader, Ramashraya Prasad Singh, then a powerful
Minster, backing them in Patna. Since the Bhumihar groups constituted
a powerful political lobby entrenched in government, the police and
the bureaucracy, the shape of the struggle, the patterns of State intervention
and even the Congress approach to the conflict were conditioned
selectively by these linkages.
By the middle of the 1980s, Jehanabad
had taken the shape of a vast police camp. At one point, their were
police encampments, a majority of them manned by the para-military forces,
in 134 villages. These forces had been posted to fight the guerrilla
squads of the CPI-ML Party Unity Group and the CPI-ML Liberation. A
further process of proliferation was also taking place at this time,
since the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC)23
had started to take firm roots in the South Bihar districts
of Aurangabad, Palamau and Hazaribagh.
The stakes in the conflict were many and increasing.
For one, the powerful and wealthy Bhumihar caste was a major source
of finance for the caste politicians who completely controlled the politics
of Jehanabad, as well as the state politics centred at Patna. A neutral
position could thus hardly be taken. Financing Congress politics meant
that, in turn, political largesse in terms of state developmental funds
were to be passed on to the same caste groups to compensate for the
money spent. Whether it was funds for roads, new hospitals, the creation
of jobs, or recruitment to the police, political support meant that
the ruling caste was the favoured beneficiary. This preferential treatment
was compounded by the fact that these caste groups were largely educated
and in a better position to claim the benefits. The biases were compounded
further by the patterns of police deployment; since very little was
spent on the deployment of the police and para-military forces, it was
only seldom that a police post was actually created. Left to fend for
themselves, the forces were detailed in existing pucca structures
which, without exception, proved to be in deodhis24
of the economically and politically powerful. The entire deployment
of forces thus took on a shape, perhaps inadvertent, that suggested
that its purpose was to protect the land, wealth and life of particular
caste groups, specifically the rich landowners, against the Naxalites.25
Inevitably, the police posts became objects of Naxalite
retaliation, reinforcing the unity of purpose and the character of confrontation,
both among the sena and the police. The police force was detailed,
on request, under officers of the same castes and class as the landowners,
and progressively became tools of systematic repression, contributing
in no small measure to the spread of Naxalism in the area. To add to
this was a highly controversial decision in 1986, during Bindeshwari
Dubeys tenure as Chief Minister, to arm the landlords against
the Naxalites.26 Thousands of licenses
were issued to those who wanted them and could afford to buy them. The
enormous and growing arsenal of licensed and illegal arms eventually
came to be loaned out to the senas in their fight against the
Naxalites.27 The viciousness of the conflict
was highlighted by the MCC-sponsored Baghaura-Dalelchak massacre of
54 Rajputs in the Madanpur region of Aurangabad. This massacre was in
retaliation to a series of smaller massacres of Dalits28
by the Rajputs. It was these massacres that made it clear that prominent
political personalities were involved. They included Ram Naresh Singh,29
MLA and later MP, who was close to Satyendra Narain Sinha,30
former Chief Minister, and to Bhisma Narain Singh,31
former Governor of Tamil Nadu and Tripura. Ram Naresh Singh was looked
upon as a saviour of the Rajput landowners of the erstwhile Palamau
Paragana and Chatra regions.32
In the meanwhile, the Party Unity and Liberation squads
were encountering many other heavily armed and politically connected
caste army formations. The MCC attacks on the Rajputs had temporarily
quelled this non-confrontationist caste. Soon the Ruhella Pathans who
owned vast tracts of land, were progressively targeted. The Pathans
had joined Sher Shah as mercenaries and had been settled by him in the
mountainous and forest areas of Sherghati33
and Chatra. The Pathans were decimated in MCC attacks in the mid-eighties,
despite the political backing they enjoyed. These confrontations with
the Naxalites gave birth to the Sunlight Sena a joint effort
of the Rajputs and the Pathans who saw themselves as natural allies,
since both were drawn from martial stock and were landowners.
Closer to Patna, the powerful Kurmi caste, authors
of the Belchi massacre, set up the Bhoomi Sena, led by the Congress
MLA from the Masaurhi area, and later led by his wife, Poonam Devi,
also an MLA. CPI leader and MP, Ramashraya Singh Yadav had, in the meanwhile,
set up the Lorik Sena, exploiting the linkages between the Yadav landowners
and the contractor-caste criminal combine, to take on the left squads.
At the same time, the Rajputs of Bhojpur set up the Kunwar Sena, named
after the 1987 hero Kunwar Singh, and the Brahmans set up the Ganga
Sena. All these were headed and supported by leading politicians of
the day, with many prominent Congressmen among their patrons.
But the Naxalite movement was also undergoing fundamental
changes. Some of the Reds had started isolating individual landowners
in specific regions,34 offering protection
for payments ranging between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 50,000, or in exchange
of some land or guns. Many of the landowners agreed. This tactic later
took on the form of an extended protection racket, and the Party Unity
and Liberation groups started clashing among themselves in turf wars,
or over these protected landowners. A series of propaganda and counter-propaganda
pamphlets emanating from these groups in the 1980s testify to this trend,
even as increasing numbers of scheduled caste criminals started joining
these outfits to secure some safety from the law. These moves were accelerated
by the urgency with which guns and money were required to fuel their
movement and these were only available either with the landowners
or with the police. The result was increasing excesses by the Naxalites,
which eventually forced their prosperous victims to increase finance
to the caste senas.35 The caste
senas, by this had also turned into a tiger that could not be
dismounted, inflicting escalated demands on their support base. The
late eighties also saw the emergence of unity moves, such as the Savarna
Liberation Army (SLA),36 supported by all
upper caste groups. The SLA was created by Ramadhar Singh Diamond, a
college peon with criminal antecedents, who was soon arrested, and the
sena died out.
The proliferation of senas, however, failed
to contain the Naxalites. Indeed, while the attacks by the Party Unity
and Liberation groups instilled terror among the landowners and their
caste allies, the killing of Dalits only fed the desperation of these
castes, increasing the Red cadres. Most of the caste senas were,
consequently, decimated in this contest. By the 1990s, most of the senas
has been buried under the Red assault. Their remnants, however, were
to make another attempt at revival in 1991, this time under the patronage
of former Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Ram Lakhan Singh
Yadav. The kulaks formed the Kisan Sangh at Paliganj, 40 kilometres
Southeast of Patna, and set up its armed wing, the Kisan Security Tigers
(KST). The KST went into action at once, gunning down 15 at Tiskhora
in the Masaurhi region, and then carrying out three other strikes in
quick succession before Ram Lakhan Yadav fell out with the then Janata
Dal Chief and Chief Minister, Laloo Parsad Yadav.37
The leaders of the KST squads were arrested, and that was the end of
However, when the Liberation group killed Jwala Singh,
the Sarpanch of Tarari in Bhojpur, and a Kuer Sena leader who had shared
a dias with Laloo Prasad Yadav and was favoured by powerful politicians
of all hues, the leadership of the anti-Red forces passed into the hands
of the Bhumihars or Belaur, the second largest village of Bihar. This
move was consolidated further by the reaction to the death of Shankh
Singh,38 referred as a warlord
and the highest revenue paying agriculturist in Bhojpur. After these
events, and several skirmishes, the Ranveer Sena was born in 1994,39
with the support of all upper caste landowners in Bhojpur. The Ranveer
Sena notched up a record of several massacres, inflicting a heavy loss
of life on Dalit women and children actions that appealed greatly
to the remnants of all the other caste armies of Central Bihar. This
Ranveer Sena consequently gained acceptance in Jehanabad and Gaya districts
as well. The turning points of this bush war were the actions at Ekwari,
Nannaur, Bathe, Narainpur and Shankarbigha; these incited retaliatory
actions by the Left armies at Bhima and Senari, a sequence that led
to the unsuccessful attempt to bring Bihar under Presidents rule
Clearly, the entire confrontation is moulded by caste
factors, and not by a class ideology. Moreover, the only gains have
accrued to various political parties, and not to the actual groups engaged
in the conflict.40 These benefits
have shifted over time. With the Mandalisation of politics,
the forward castes, traditional allies of the Congress, shifted overwhelmingly
to support the BJP. The BJP has, of course, had to face the electoral
consequences of implied support to the caste senas. The Bhojpur
situation41 was exploited by the Laloo
Prasad Yadav-led Janata Dal, now the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), who
allowed matters to drift in the expectation that clashes between the
Naxalites and BJP supporters would benefit his own party. The payback
came soon enough,42 with the landowners
quickly shifting allegiance to the RJD candidates at Piro and Paliganj,
Kanti Singh and Chandradeo Prasad Verma, who went on to become ministers
in the United Front Government.43 Interestingly,
the Party Unity at Paliganj also supported Verma in an attempt to contain
the increasing influence of Liberation in the area.
These strange alliances were mirrored in developments
towards the South as well. The MCC originally an anarchist formation
with overwhelming support among the Yadavs and Koeris openly
declared that it would not support any party, as it did not believe
in the Constitutional process. However, the group was influenced by
RJD leaders such as Uday Narain Choudhary, a former Jail Minister, and
its actions have consistently benefited this party. Indeed, the MCC
gunned down an extremely popular Dalit candidate standing on the BJP
ticket in Gaya, leading to the election of the RJD candidate in the
re-poll. In 1995, the MCC systematically gave boycott calls during elections
only in such areas where parties other than the RJD had a dominant presence.
However, before those elections came about, a split occurred in the
MCC, whose leadership was drawn from both the Yadav and Kurmi castes.
The most prominent Kurmi leaders were killed by the Yadav group, paving
the wave for greater support to Laloo Prasad Yadav.44
The role of the Centrist parties, such as the Congress
and the RJD, in the the growing polarisation of castes and the rise
of the Naxalites in Central Bihar, can also be gauged from the fact
that in the wake declaration of the implementation of the Mandal report
in 1989, caste has become an over-riding factor in all elections, effectively
splitting every party on caste lines. Laloo Prasad Yadav has engineered
splits in the CPI, the Congress and the BJP, and even in relatively
disciplined radical Left formations such as the CPI-ML in Bhojpur by
exploiting the caste mantra. The class war ideology has, consequently,
become completely unsustainable, as the caste factor nibbles away at
the CPI-ML base among the backward castes who are progressively woven
into a solid formation on blatantly caste lines by the ruling RJD.45
The confusion was compounded by the Left-RJD alliance
of 1989, an alliance that continued into 1996, enmeshing the Red and
Green (RJDs party colour) cadres to a point where all ideological
distinctions blurred.46 Under the canopy
of this arrangement, the CPI and CPI-M notched up an impressive tally
of legislators in the two Assembly Elections that ensued in this period,
as well as in one Parliamentary election. However, when the alliance
collapsed under charges of corruption these parties found that their
cadres had split along caste lines,47 and
much of their support had been appropriated by the RJD. Indeed, the
CPI was forced to expel seven of its MLAs who shifted allegiance
to Laloo Prasad Yadavs RJD.48 Worse,
the CPI and CPI-M have now been forced by these internal contradictions,
to rejoin the alliance, withdrawing their charges of corruption against
the RJD government charges that the CPI-M secretary general Harkishan
Singh Surjit, and CPI leaders Indrajit Gupta and A.B. Bardhan had vowed
to fight till the bitter end.
It is this lack of ideological consistency and proactive
strategy that has conditioned the Left in Bihar, leaving them few options
of expansion. The radical Left groups have failed entirely to formulate
a holistic pro-people agenda that could rise above caste,
and the realisation of this failure is growing. In 1994, the Liberation
group planned a renunciation of its underground activities, and even
toyed with the possibility of disbanding its squads.49
However, the possibility of its squad members simply switching over
to the Party Unity or MCC forced them to hastily drop the idea.50
Nevertheless, the Liberation group is now trying to strike a balance
between its underground activities and overground constitutional politics.
Yet its proactive content remains asphyxiated in a bottle
of old demands address only the depressed caste groups.
Their shift has, however, led Party Unity and the MCC
to now declared the Liberation a revisionist and counter-Naxalite
group. These two, the former now re-designated the "Peoples
War Group" (PWG), are presently fighting a bitter battle of survival
against each other.52 The MCC had, in 1998,
broken ranks with the Andhra Pradesh PWG faction led by Ganpathy, a
former aide of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah. It now finds itself fighting
a defensive battle against the re-disignated Party Unity-PWG in Bihar,
which has gained enormously from its Andhra ally, especially in terms
of landmines and weapons to fight both the police and MCC cadres. While
these groups reject the constitutional process, it is clear that they
also have no agenda for developmental work in the areas they dominate,
and there is little demand for repair of canals, roads, etc. Evidently,
poverty and backwardness are good seeding grounds for unrest; and unrest
gives them a locus standi in the area of conflict.53
At present, there is little hope or possibility of
resolution. Bhojpur and Jehanabad have sought to opt out of the struggle,
with both the Left cadres and the kisan armies suing for peace.
However, Liberation rejects these peace moves, even as MCC and PWG attempt
to infiltrate its bastion in Bhojpur, challenging both Liberation and
the Ranveer Sena. The Ranveer Sena, on the other hand, recruiting among
the unemployed, has got used to the power and the benefits that flow
from the gun, and has no incentive to allow the confrontation to die
out. An end to the cycle of retaliatory attacks, in fact, would erode
the power of each of the contenders in this contest, and every time
there is any perceived danger of peace breaking out, new atrocities
are planned, confrontations intensify, and the platform for further
conflict is strengthened. And within the orbit of this unceasing strife,
there is no space for political consolidation.
*Mammen Matthew is Special Correspondent-cum-Chief Reporter with
The Hindustan Times, Patna.
Notes & References
1. The main militant Left groups
are the Marxist Communist Centre (MCC), the CPI-ML-Liberation Group
and the CPI-ML Party Unity, now redesignated Peoples War Group (PWG)
after its merger with the Andhra Pradesh based PWG.
2. The castes arraigned against
the Left are led by the Bhumihars, the Rajputs, the Brahmins, the Yadavs
and the Kurmis.
3. Cf. "Why is CPI-ML afraid
to give peace a chance", The Hindustan Times, Patna (hereafter
referred to as HT/Patna) March 29, 1999.
4. Telengana: Comprising the Godavari
region of Andhra Pradesh where the undivided Communist Party of India
launched a peasant-driven land grab movement in the early 1960s.
5. Naxalbari: A village in West
Bengal where the first movement for a Soviet Type uprising was launched
in the early 1970s.
6. It was at Ekwari village in Bhojpur
that the Liberation movement was born.
7. Jehanabad: In Central Bihar;
witness to the maximum number of massacres since the late 1970s.
8. The basis is the census report
of 1991; an elaboration can be found in the report on Jehanabad by the
state unit of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, May 1990.
9. Dandakaranya: The part of Northern
Andhra and contiguous areas of Madhya Pradesh where the Andhra Pradesh
bases PWG has shifted activities.
10. The MCC document, Lal Chingari
(The Red Spark) mentions its inability to find people to serve
as political commissars: September 1995. The CPI-ML, Liberation group
after coming overground in December 1994 has been consciously wooing
the middle class since it believes that leadership potential is limited
among dispossessed groups.
11. The Bihar Government had launched
Operation Rakshak even as it categorised caste militias as self defence
groups; para-military forces were inducted for operations. Meanwhile,
Operation Siddhartha, a socio-economic development project was launched
in three village-clusters in Jehanabad under the 20-point programme
to emphasise developmental activities in order to wean away the Red
cadres. Both failed in their purposes.
12. Mukhiyas: Elected headman
of villages. In most cases, they remained unchallenged for decades due
to their political and financial clout.
13. The issue of rape and denial
of minimum wages were basic issues to the Left in its formative stages.
The fight now is for maan and samman or self respect,
which, in the eyes of the higher castes, translates into a misdemeanor
by the lower castes.
14. A term used for work taken
from the labourer or his family members beyond normal hours of work
with payment to one only. Basically means work without commensurate
15. The Bihar Government enacted
the Bihar Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling Area and Acquisition of Surplus
Land) Act in 1961. Only 581 acres of land were declared surplus out
of which 428 acres were acquired and distributed in 1986-87, as against
a total availability of 4950 acres of surplus land in Jehanabad district
if the upper ceiling for Class V land is taken to be 60 acres.
16. Ahars and pynes
are native terms for small water bodies, storage and distribution channels
for local use.
17. Native term for sharecroppers.
18. Purnia in North Bihar: the
first killings were recorded at Rupaspur Chandwa Village where the son
of the then Bihar Speaker, Lakshmi Barain Sudhanshu led the assault.
19. Nine Yadavs were killed at
Parasbigha in Jehanabad in 1979; while 22 Dalits were burnt alive
at Belchi in the Nalanda district in 1978. This provided the occasion
for the famous visit by Indira Gandhi on the back of an elephant.
20. Made infamous by the police
firing on April 13, 1983. A PUDR inquiry headed by retired justice:
P.S. Poti had termed it the "Jallianwala Bagh incident of free
India." 24 persons were killed when the police fired at a defenceless
crowd of MKSS workers at the premises of the Arwal based Gandhi Library
which was enclosed from all sides except for a small entrance.
21. Twenty four people of the Bhumihar
caste were killed at Senari last April by the MCC in retaliation against
the earlier killing of 22 people at Shankarbigha and 11 persons at Narainpur.
22. The Brahmarishi Sena was a
formation set up by the Bhumihar caste. The caste claims the legendary
Lord Parshuram as its progenitor. The Swamis reform movement provided
the momentum under which members of this caste began to acquire education
and seek recruitment in large numbers in the police, the bureaucracy
and the judiciary in Bihar.
23. The MCC, an offshoot of Dakshin
Desh, was started by Kanhai Chatterjee in the early 1960s. It
presently adheres to the Lin Piao line, and is an anarchist organisation
opposed to the other Marxist-Leninist groups.
24. See MATTHEW,.M., "Strategy
to starve extremist outfits", HT/Patna, Sept 15, 1998. Deodhis
are farm houses of rich landowners.
25. The police-sena nexus
has been referred to in the Human Rights Watch Report "Broken People",
April 1999, and also in PUDR and PUCL reports, May 1980.
26. Cf. Human Rights Watch, ibid.,
Chapter on Bhojpur.
27. Cf. MATTHEW, M., "Ultra
" on the Ranveer Sena, HT/Patna March 10, 1999.
28. Dalits: A term used
for depressed classes. It was the series of clashes at Darmia, Chechani,
etc., in 1987which finally led to the Baghaura-Dalelchak retaliation
by the MCC.
29. Ram Naresh Singh alias Lootan
Singh: Lootan means one who loots or grabs. He started his
career as a wagon breaker, and later went on to become a contractor.
30. S.N. Sinha, Chief Minister
for two terms, belongs to the princely Deo family of Aurangabad.
31. Bhishma Narain Singh belongs
to the Manatu family of Palamau.
32. After the Baghaura-Dalelchak
massacre, there were no further clashes between the MCC and the Rajput
caste. The massacre also led to the complete control of the MCC over
the area, so much so that it now controls more than 500 villages south
of the Grand Trunk road, an area in which it exercises parallel administrative
33. Sherghati: On the Grand Trunk
road, once a property of the Tekari based princely family and an important
subdivision during British times.
34. This has become a norm in Naxalite
held areas; for an elaboration on the psyche of landowners, see: "Where
blood is flowing along the Sone": HT/Patna, February 28,1999. "Exit
Policy for landowners," HT/Patna March 12,1999. "Police tormenting
them more than the Naxalites" HT/Delhi, March 1,1999. "PWG
circulates hit list for selective killings", HT Patna, January
35. Late CPI-ML Liberation General
Secretary, Vinod Mishra accepted this and said his party had set in
motion measures to weed them out. The MCC is also heavily criminalised
as are all caste armies.
36. The term Savarna means twice
born used interchangeable for Upper castes.
37. The falling out was mainly
due to their respective claims to represent Yadav leadership. Jwala
Singh was responsible for provoking the Danwar Bihta massacre in October
1984 which claimed 24 dead on election day. The dispute was over voting
rights of the Dalits led by the CPI-ML.
38. Shankh Singhs father,
Nathuni Singh was nicknamed Red Slayer. The Liberation Group
had imposed an economic blockade on the family in Ekwari village in
1978, and this still continues. Several family members have been killed.
Fourteen daughters in Shankh Singhs immediate family are yet to
be wed since no caste man has been able to defy the blockade. Shankh
Singh was killed three years ago.
39. The Ranveer Sena, the most
dreaded caste militia to date is seen as an effective reply by the landlords
to the Reds. It commands 16,000 licensed and unlicensed arms including
AK-47 and grenade launchers. Barmeshwar Singh, the headman of Khopira
village in Bhojpur is the leader of the armed underground group. It
was banned in 1994 but never disarmed. The group was responsible for
several massacres and has killed over 400 people since 1995, including
62 at Bathe (19 children, 20 women) in the Arwal Block of Jehanabad
on December 1, 1997. The Ranveer Sena has the direct support of two
Ministers in the present RJD cabinet, a host of bureaucrats and police
officials, as also legislators in the Congress, the BJP, the Samata
Party and the Bihar Peoples Party. See Human Rights Watch, op. cit.
40. The PWG and the MCC have supported
the ruling party several times. Raghvendra Singh, Minister from the
Bhojpur area, and Dilip Singh, the Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation
from the Mokamah area, are close to the Ranveer Sena, while former Central
Ministers Chandradeo Prasad Verma and (Mrs.) Kanti Singh have directly
benefited from its support. Verma had opposed the ban on the sena.
41. Over one hundred thousand acres
of land was under economic blockade in Bhojpur between 1980 and 1997.
In Jehanabad, 40,000 acres are still blockaded by the PWG and Liberation
42. The leader of Opposition in
the Bihar Assembly, Sushil Modi of the BJP, has consistently denied
any party connection with the sena. Lallo Prasad Yadav, the RJD
Chief has entertained sena supporters several times, but unofficially.
43. For details see MATTHEW, M.,
"Piro-Pali: a battle of wide ramifications" HT/Patna, January
44. In over a hundred targeted
attacks by the MCC, no RJD cadre member or leader was harmed during
the 1995 Parliamentary election campaign.
45. The only exception was the
CPI-ML Liberation win at Siwan with a Yadava candidate in the Assembly
election in 1996.
46. Present State Secretary of
the CPI, Jalaluddin Ansari is on record accepting the fact.
47. The alliance was severed in
48. The seven MLAs formed the Revolutionary
49. Before 1994, the party was
known as the Indian Peoples Front.
50. The squads were also deemed
necessary to ward off threats from other Naxal groups. The party lost
several cadres to the MCC, especially in an attack at Chatra on September
51. See MATTHEW, M., "Winds
of Change blow over Naxal territory", HT/Patna, November, 1998.
"Naxalites fight for turf control", HT/ Patna, September 1998.
"The killing fields of Bihar", HT/Patna, March 1998. "When
caste dons the garb of class" HT/Patna, April 28,1997.
52. The first incident of mine
explosion was recorded at Madanpur in 1992 December when the MCC, then
an ally of the Andhra based PWG, ambushed a police convoy. Mines were
used extensively during the 1995 Parliamentary elections, with the police,
the CRPF as also non-Janata Dal (now RJD) candidates as targets. The
Party Unity, now known as the PWG, used this technique recently in the
April killing of seven CRPF Jawans in Jehanabad district. According
to sources in these organisations, the technology was passed on from
the Andhra-based PWG, which had picked up the technique of manufacturing
mines from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka.
53. Roads and culverts have been
special targets in areas where the police are thought to have a chance
of rapid ingress. In recent years, government contractors have been
threatened and thrown out of work. Only approved contractors can take
on work, with a cut in revenues going to the MCC. The organisation also
charges a levy on forest produce, especially on kattha and khair
wood. The annual income of the group is estimated by the intelligence
sources to be around twenty million rupees. The group employs around
50 squads of 20 men each, most armed with seized regular police rifles,
and locally manufactured stenguns. The PWG and MCC which follow a military
regime, and their cadres are trained in guereilla tactics suitable for
the local and forest terrain.