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Private caste armies in Bihar

Among the Indian States, private armies of landowners are unique to Bihar. These private armies were founded to counter the various left-wing extremist, Naxalite, groups operating in different parts of the State. During the past two decades, an estimated 11 private armies have existed at varying points of time in the State. It is difficult to state with certainty the number and names of those that are definitely in operation today. These armies are created and financed primarily by landowners to protect their land and properties. One interesting feature of these private armies is that they are invariably formed on caste-lines. Clashes between private armies and Naxalite groups have resulted in a number of massacres, over the years.

Previously, these private armies confined themselves to protecting the land and properties of particular castes. However, presently the Ranbir Sena is seeking to expand its base by looking after the agrarian interests of several landlords belonging to the backward castes, too. Like the Naxalite groups that impose a `levy' on forest contractors and illegal mine operators, these private armies have managed to sustain themselves financially by collecting monthly fees from landlords.

Besides the caste-based private armies listed here, there existed the Lal Sena between 1974-76. It was the armed squad of the erstwhile underground Communist Party of India––Marxist-Leninist (Liberation) and was founded to take-on the landowners

Major Caste Armies in Bihar

Name Year of Formation Caste Affiliation Area of Operation
Kuer Sena 1979 Rajput Bhojpur
Kisan Suraksha Samiti 1979 Kurmi Patna, Jehanabad, Gaya
Bhumi Sena 1983 Kurmi Patna, Nawada, Nalanda, Jehanabad
Lorik Sena 1983 Yadav Patna, Jehanabad, Nalanda
Bramharshi Sena 1984 Bhumihar Bhojpur, Aurangabad, Jehanabad
Kisan Sangh 1984 Rajput, Brahmin Palamu, Aurangabad
Kisan Sewak Samaj 1985 Rajput Palamu, Aurangabad
Sunlight Sena 1989 Pathan, Rajput Palamu, Garhwa, Aurangabad, Gaya
Sawarna Liberation Front 1990 Bhumihar Gaya, Jehanabad
Kisan Sangh 1990 Bhumihar Patna, Bhojpur
Kisan Morcha 1989-90 Rajput Bhojpur
Ganga Sena 1990 Rajput, Bhojpur
Ranvir Sena 1994 Bhumihar Bhojpur, Patna, Jehanabad, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Gaya
Gram Suraksha Parishad 1995 ` Bhojpur
Mazdoor Kisan Sangh 1996 ` Bettiah

Source: Prakash Louis, People Power: The Naxalite Movement in Central Bihar, Delhi: Wordsmith, 2002 and various media reports.





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