Bagaha Firing: The Facts

A CPI(ML) fact-finding team visited Bagaha immediately after the firing and ascertained the facts. The team comprosed State Standing Committee member Viendra Prasad Gupta, State Standing Committee member and former MLA Amarnath Yadav, RYA National President Amarjit Kushwaha, and CPI(ML) leaders from Champaran Vishnudev Yadav, Sunil Rav, Dayanand, Dwivedi, Rahim Miyan. Mohd. Kalam and others. A brief summary of the report follows.

On 15th June this year, Chandeshwar Kaji, a young singer (of Dardari village, Naurangiya thana, W Champaran), went to Devtaha with his music system. The same night, people from Amva village called him to their village. He did not return home after this. On 16th June, after he went missing, police were alerted. A week passed, and the police’s apathy was apparent. They failed to locate Kaji, or even his corpse. On the night of 25th June, the police arrested a father and son from Amva. Villagers from Dardari reached Naurangiya on the 25th, demanding that the arrested duo be jailed. The villagers said that blood stains and a torch had been found near Ghutri bridge in Kataharva, leading them to suspect that the body might be found in that area. When the police reached Kataharva, villagers asked why the arrested duo had not been brought along, to help locate the corpse. A heated exchange with the police ensued, and police responded by summoning extra forces including Bagaha DSP Shailesh Kumar. Meanwhile school kids of Harnatand were returning from coaching classes. As soon as the DSP reached, an indiscriminate lathicharge was unleashed on the villagers, and when villagers resisted this, the police began to fire. 6 were killed on the spot, a 7th died in Gorakhpur hospital subsequently.

12-year old Anil Rai, 10-year old Shivmohan Kumar, and 16-year old Anup Kumar, are the young boys killed by the police bullets. Other victims of the firing included Brahmadev Khatait (35), Dharmvir Khatait (31), Bhukdev Kumar (23), and Tulsi Rai (24).

Bhahmadev Khatait had been shot in the leg. When his younger brother Dharmvir Khatait tried to rescue him, police shot Dharmvir dead and brutally stamped on Brahmadev, taking his life. 15 people are injured in this attack, and those grievously injured include Ritwik Kumar (14), Kamlesh Rai (22), Ganesh (24) and Madan Mahto (28). The families say that the injured are not getting proper treatment. Madan Mahto, a tailor, who took bullets in his left leg and right hand, still had mere bandages on his body: even the blood stains on his body are yet to be cleaned. Bihar State Standing Committee member Comrade Rajaram visited the injured people who are admitted to PMCH.

The bodies of those killed are in Valmikinagar Guest House. Police are refusing to hand over the bodies to the families. The police wants to cremate the bodies without giving the families a chance to see the bodies.

Bagaha police firing: were bullets the answer to stones?

(Excerpts from a report by Rahi Gaikwad in The Hindu, 30 June 2013)

As with the proverbial bogeyman, the mere mention of the word ‘police’ struck fear into Leelavati Devi and she reached out to her family for some comforting.

“They beat me black and blue with a rifle butt, in the back, in the waist,” she said, after much goading. Deeply disturbed, she got startled even by the sound of passing vehicles.

Her village of Deotaha in Bagaha, West Champaran district, is one among several villages with a concentration of nearly three lakh people of the close-knit Tharu tribe. On June 24, Bagaha became a bloody chapter in Bihar’s history when the police opened fire on agitating Tharus, killing six and injuring 15.

According to the police, the firing was “unavoidable” but the situation that led to the firing was avoidable.

Initial delay

Bagaha was simmering with discontent ever since a local youth, Chandeshwar Kaji, went missing on June 15. The police’s dilly-dallying over taking action caused the initial delay.

“First we looked for Chandeshwar ourselves,” Suhas Kaji of Dardari told The Hindu . “Three days later, we went to lodge a missing complaint, but were turned away as it was the wrong police station. Our village comes under one police station, but the spot where the boy was last seen comes under another.”

Going back and forth to police stations took three more days. On June 21, the police took a complaint. The same day, blood stains and a torch, which Chandeshwar was carrying, were found in the fields. Suspecting foul play, the locals went to the police again to register a case of kidnapping.

On June 24, the day of the firing, hundreds of men and women surrounded the Naurangiya police station demanding action. In this melee, a phone call from a police man said the body had been found.

The information turned out to be false, but the damage was done.

News of the possible recovery of the body spread across the villages of Bagaha and people turned out in large numbers to see the body. “I went to see the exhumation. The people were telling the police to dig out the body,” Ritik Kumar (14), injured in the left arm, told The Hindu .

Victims said the police were digging in several places in vain. Seeing this, a group of nearly 400 women surrounded the police and demanded that they summon the accused, Ravikesh, arrested in the case, to the spot.

“The women said the police could not leave without discovering the body. The police assured them the accused would be summoned but instead started calling additional forces from other police stations. The women started screaming and heckling the police,” Suhas Kaji said.

At this point the police lathi-charged the women, and even assaulting them with rifle butts. The brutal assault on the women incensed the villagers — nearly 2,500 in number as per the police. They began throwing stones, at which the police opened fire. As per the police probe, 33 rounds were fired from various rifles.

“The police first fired in the air. The people were still under the impression the police would not fire at them. But they did,” said Ritik.


Many innocent bystanders and students became the target of the bullets. The Khatjit family of Deotaha village lost two bothers, Brahmadev (40) and Dharamjeet (32). With the breadwinners gone, the wives and children of the deceased duo now face a bleak future.

“My husband had gone to buy fertilizers. I rushed to the spot when I heard he was shot. When I saw his blood-stained body, I went weak in the knees, but still thought of picking him up. The police came to attack me. I ran to the nearby Mushahar [a low caste] quarters. But the police came looking for me there, asking who was wearing yellow clothes. I was in a yellow sari. I had to change my clothes and make my escape,” Hemanti Devi, Dharamjeet’s wife, told The Hindu .

Hemanti saw her brother-in-law Brahmadev trying to get up despite being shot in the loin. “As he was trying to get up, he was shot in the chest. When he still did not die, the police crushed him under their jeep,” she said.

The police denied running over anyone.

Madan Mahato was shot twice while trying to flee. His mobile was snatched away when he tried to receive a call. “When I fell down, the police said, ‘Should we kill you?’ I told them to go ahead. They then dumped me in the jeep like a gunny bag.”

Bhupdev Mahato, an engineering student, was on his way to the market. He stopped on seeing the crowd and before he knew what was happening, was shot in the chest.

Many of the deceased and those seriously hurt have been shot in the back.

Lack of aid

The gross lack of medical facilities has put those seriously injured at further risk.

Five days later, Ganesh Mahato (20) still had three bullets lodged in his body — one in his spine and two in the ribs. All were shot from the back. Apart from the acute pain, he had difficulty in breathing. With lack of facilities to operate on him, he would be taken to Delhi for treatment, his family said.

Asleem Miya (25) was unable to speak and only gestured to communicate. He had one bullet lodged in the back. The family had no news about his further treatment.

In Bettiah, Madan’s wound was cleaned and one stitch given without administering anaesthesia. “In Patna, I had to spend one day in the emergency ward as no bed was available,” he said.

Shattered lives

The bullets have left behind a trail of shattered lives. Chandeshwar’s wife Geeta Devi has lost all hope. The duo was married only last month. With her husband’s case now sidelined, there was focus on her plight. Having received only school education, she desperately needs a job to keep afloat.

“I am not scared of the police; I am angry at them. They started battamizi [misbehaviour] first. They fired on people who were running away,” Ritik said from his bed at the Patna hospital.


Struggle for Land and Women’s Rights in Purnea

Recently, an oppressive landlord was burnt alive in a spontaneous protest by adivasi women in Kukrain No.1, Purnea district of Bihar. Severe police repression had followed. CPI(ML) has maintained that the feudal oppression, denial of land rights, and exploitation of labourers lay at the bottom of the incident.

On 25th June, CPI(ML), defying the repressive and defensive atmosphere imposed by the administration, held a Bhumi Adhikar Sankalp Sabha, demanding unconditional release of arrested adivasis, and withdrawal of false cases against CPI(ML) District Secretary Lalan Singh and other local activists as well as 96 adivasis; and setting up of a special tribunal to distribute ceiling surplus, bhoodan, Bihar Government and sikmi land among the landless.

The impressive mass meeting was held at the Shaheed Maidan, which had been named Reema Devi Maidan. A martyrs’ memorial at the grounds was dedicated to Comrade Brajesh Mohan Thakur. The meeting was presided over by Comrade Lalan Singh, and addressed by party GS Comrade Dipankar, PB member and AIALA GS Dhirendra Jha, former MP and AIALA National President Rameshwar Prasad, CCM and AIPWA GS Meena Tiwari, as well as many district leaders. More than 5000 participated in the Sabha.

Speakers stressed the fact that 3 lakh acres of land in Purnea were illegally occupied by landlords and feudal forces. They condemned the Nitish Government for backtracking shamelessly on the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission.

On 20th July, 1000 women under the banner of AIPWA had protested in Purnea demanding schooling, education for girls who are rape survivors, and freeing of Purnea’s adivasi women who remain in jail. The SDO stopped the procession by force, snatched AIPWA flags and banners and beat up the protesters. Following this the women surrounded and soundly beat the SDO, broke the gates of the DM’s office and entered the DM’s office in full strength. The administration did not have the courage to arrest the women then. But when the women were returning from the city, police picked up some 150 women from various places on their way home! Most of the women resisted the arrest boldly, and were eventually released under pressure from local people. As we go to press, around 50 women are still in custody.

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