Killings of Journalists, Activists, Citizens in Bihar

INCIDENCES of crime in Bihar have been steadily on the rise after the Bihar Assembly elections. In the most recent incident journalist Rajdev Ranjan of the ‘Hindustan’ newspaper was brutally murdered in Siwan. Just a few days earlier, ruling party JDU MLC Manorama Devi’s son Rocky Yadav killed a businessman’s son in Gaya over for the mere reason that he had overtaken Rocky’s car. These rising instances of crime have certainly created an atmosphere of fear in the minds of the people of Bihar which the BJP, shattered after the Assembly election defeat, is looking to cash in on. The BJP is again singing the old song about “jungle raj in Bihar”. Certain elements in the media are also joining in this chorus. But even a child in Bihar can tell you that the most bloodthirsty wolf in the ‘jungle raj’ whose return the BJP is harping on was the Ranveer Sena. It is well-known that the Ranveer Sena goons were shielded by BJP’s political protection. Their chief Barmeshwar Mukhiya, who was accused of the murder of 300 dalits and OBCs was lauded by the BJP as a “Gandhi”. It was under pressure from the BJP that Nitish Kumar arranged the wholesale acquittal by the High Court of the perpetrators of 6 carnages including Bathe, Bathani and Miyanpur. Also, it is strange that the killing of a journalist in Bihar is termed as a sign of ‘jungle raj’ by the BJP while even after a journalist killed around the same time in BJP-ruled Jharkhand, the BJP insists that Jharkhand is enjoying ‘Mangal Raj’!

If we look at the rising graph of crime in Bihar in the past 5 months, it will be wrong to say that these are merely isolated incidents of ordinary crime; rather, they are part of an organized campaign of attacks as in the past, carried out by feudal-criminal forces under the protection of the BJP. First, ML leaders and other activists struggling for issues of land and justice were killed and now journalists are being killed to silence the voices of dissent. Moreover, Nitish Kumar despite his slogan of ‘Sanghmukt Bharat’ has surrendered totally in the matter of these attacks. This government does not evince the will to curb the rising incidences of crime.

Prior to the murders of the journalist and the businessman’s son, 5 political murders had already taken place in Bihar. All these 5 political murders were of ML leaders from dalit and backward backgrounds and the perpetrators were feudal forces under BJP protection. At the time of the Assembly elections, ML leader Satish Yadav was killed in Bhojpur; after the elections, ML leaders Rajendra Mahto in Sahar and Sanjay Chaurasiya in Siwan were killed. Criminals protected by the local RJD MLA stoned to death Chhote Manjhi of Badki Ghoshi village (Hilsa, Nalanda) because he refused to take back the case of attempted rape of his wife. Dominant caste contractors threw acid and seriously injured Anandi Rishidev of the Manjhi caste along with 10 other poor people when they opposed the forcible construction of a road on land belonging to a mahadalit tola in Bahadurpur village of Narpatganj block, Arariya district. In the same block, a girl student’s father Mohd Riyaz was beaten to death on the petty issue of asking for a second helping of ‘khichdi’.

Recently, in Kajhiya village, Nawada, BJP-protected feudal forces burnt down the huts of 60 dalit families. On 21 March in Balliya block of Beguserai district two CPI (ML) leaders Mahesh Ram (25 yrs) and Rampravesh Ram (27 yrs) were brutally killed; young ML leaders fighting for land rights were killed in Maksudanpur, Beguserai. Feudal forces have taken to violent attacks in order to evict the poor from land, but this government which talks of ‘development with justice’ remains silent in these matters. Nitish Kumar has surrendered in the face of this fresh series of attacks by feudal forces on the poor and dalits. In Kajhiya, Akbarpur block, Nawada district BJP-protected criminals burnt down about 60 dalit bastis in February. In April ML leader Garo Paswan was killed in Cheriya-Bariyarpur block.

All we get from Nitish-Lalu on the murders of dalits, poor, and ML leaders by BJP-protected feudal forces is a deep silence. The self-proclaimed champions of ‘social justice’ are treading the same opportunistic path they walked in the old days, thus betraying the mandate Bihar gave them. Victim of conspiracy by former BJP MLA from Darauli Ramayan Ram, newly elected CPI(ML) MLA from Darauli AIKMS State President Satyadev Ram and RYA National President Amarjeet Kushwaha are still in jail today. Several false cases of murder, abduction etc have been slapped on popular leader from Bhojpur Manoj Manzil; he has come out on bail after a long struggle. Even after the term of life sentence passed against 14 ML leaders and activists under TADA in 2003 is over (4 including popular leader Mukhiya Shahchand died in jail due to lack of proper medical treatment) the remaining 10 ML leaders have not yet been released. The Bihar government is deaf to their repeated appeals.

The Nitish government has recommended a CBI probe into the journalist’s murder in Siwan. But there is a big question mark over the effectiveness of this action by the government. The 1997 killing of former JNUSU President Chandrashekhar Prasad was also probed by the CBI. Some of the accused were sentenced in this barbaric murder, but what happened to the main accused RJD MP Shahabuddin? Nobody knows. The State government has evaded the question whether a charge-sheet has been filed against Shahabuddin or not. The BJP is crying itself hoarse that ‘jungle raj’ has returned in Bihar, but when the State was ruled by BJP-JDU for 8 years, they never showed any inclination to charge-sheet Shahabuddin. Given this track record, it is highly doubtful that a CBI probe into Rajdev Ranjan’s murder will be useful. The needle of suspicion in this murder also points to Shahabuddin.

Nitish Kumar’s surrender in front of the growing self-confidence of BJP-Protected criminals is the cause of increasing crime in Bihar today. Therefore, whether it is a question of stifling the voices of the poor and the dalits or the freedom of journalists to report and write, it is only the CPI (ML) which can fight, and is fighting, an effective battle on these issues. Strong protest marches were held in Siwan, Beguserai, Katihar, and other districts to protest against the murder of Rajdev Ranjan.

Liberation Archive