No Excuses For Continued Injustice

The Grand Alliance Government Must Act

With the CPI(ML) victories, the people of Bihar wanted to ensure that the agenda of justice and people’s rights in Bihar got a sincere representation in the Assembly. The new Grand Alliance Government must prove its commitment to these pressing demands for justice – especially in undoing or punishing the injustices in which Governments headed by RJD and JDU, and communal-casteist forces backed by the BJP are implicated.

A close look at the election victories of the CPI(ML), as well as the electoral battle in some of the other seats, helps to highlight these pending and pressing questions of justice.

Bathani Tola, Bhojpur, and the Cry For Justice

The Mirror of Tarari Reveals The True Face of All Political Players

The Tarari Assembly seat was won by CPI(ML) candidate Comrade Sudama, who defeated the NDA candidate in a photo finish by a margin of 272 votes.

Bathani Tola – the scene of the first gruesome massacre of oppressed caste and poor Muslim landless poor by the BJP-backed Ranveer Sena – falls in this very Tarari constituency. Tarari was, before delimitation, the Sahar constituency from where the CPI(ML)’s iconic leader Comrade Ram Naresh Ram was a virtually invincible MLA. Ekwari – the historic village where the CPI(ML)’s journey in Bihar began with the anti-feudal struggles spearheaded by Comrades Ram Naresh Ram, Master Jagdish and Rameswar Yadav – also falls in Tarari.

Comrade Sudama Prasad is the General Secretary of the Bihar unit of AIKM and led the struggle for procurement of the paddy produced by the peasants and tenants of Tarari and Bhojpur, and also led a weeklong fast to secure payment for the same paddy.

The electoral arena in Tarari starkly exposes how both the NDA and the MGB represented the interests of communal-feudal forces, while all but the CPI(ML) had jettisoned Bathani’s battle for justice.
At Tarari, all the other candidates – be they from MGB, LJP or Samajwadi Party – had connections with the Ranveer Sena.

The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) led by Modi ally Ram Vilas Paswan had fielded Geeta Pandey, the wife of Ranveer Sena man Sunil Pandey, who had been the sitting MLA from Tarari, elected from the JDU. Sunil Pandey, apart from his Ranveer Sena connection, is also accused in many cases of kidnapping and extortion. Arrested on charges of having masterminded the Ara Court Bomb Blast case in order to secure the escape of two criminals Lambu Sharma and Akhilesh Upadhayay from police custody, Sunil Pandey is now out on bail.

The infamous gangster-MLA Anant Singh could not be defeated in Mokama; but significantly, the CPI(ML) defeated the equally notorious Sunil Pandey’s wife Geeta Pandey in Tarari.

The Mahagatbandhan had fielded Akhilesh Prasad Singh – former RJD MP and Union Minister who now contested on a Congress ticket. Akhilesh Prasad Singh, at the funeral of Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh had referred to the architect of the massacres of Dalit labouring poor as "a towering personality the likes of whom are born once in 100-200 years…His stature remains higher than any MP or MLA.” (http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120603/jsp/bihar/story_15563629.jsp)

And the Samajwadi Party had fielded none other than the son of Brahmeshwar Singh, Indubhushan Singh, who now leads the organization that is the front of the Ranveer Sena. Moreover it is an open secret that Brahmeshwar Singh’s family enjoys a cozy relationship with Lalu Prasad himself – contesting polls to fit Laloo’s political calculations. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, for instance, Indubhushan contested from Pataliputra, to try and help Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti by drawing Bhumihar votes away from the BJP nominee. Indubhushan’s candidature from Tarari this time too cannot be a coincidence.

In the soil watered by the blood of Bathani Tola’s poor, Lalu Prasad’s RJD Governments that boast of having stopped Advani’s riot-Rath, allowed the BJP-RSS’ Ranveer-Rath to rampage for over a decade, massacring women and children from the Dalits, oppressed castes and Muslims with impunity.

The JDU and Nitish Kumar then helped BJP share the seat of power in Bihar for the first time ever – and in order to do so, buried the Amir Das Commission and truth and justice about the Ranveer Sena massacres. And in 2015, defying history and insulting the victims, all the other rival formations to the CPI(ML) fielded Ranveer-linked candidates.

But Tarari upheld the legacy of Bathani Tola’s battle for justice. Remember, Bathani Tola was where Muslims fighting for Karbala land, chased by the Ranveers, took shelter in the homes of the oppressed castes. This bond of class unity across faiths was forged by the CPI(ML). The Ranveer Sena could not kill that legacy – and in 2015, Tarari once again rebuffed the communal-feudal Ranveer-linked candidates and elected Comrade Sudama from the CPI(ML).

By electing Comrade Sudama Prasad and the CPI(ML) from Tarari, the Dalits, oppressed castes, landless poor of all faiths, announced that they would not allow the blood of Bathani Tola to remain ‘orphaned’ (to quote the immortal Faiz poem ‘In Search of Vanished Blood’). They refused to be represented by the assassins with spotless sleeves.

The Cobrapost sting operation has once again presented irrefutable evidence – showing Ranveer Sena men boasting of the massacres on camera, and describing how they enjoyed the support and funding from BJP top brass. Riding the crest of a historic anti-BJP victory – a victory against communal and feudal forces in Bihar – will the Grand Alliance Government act on the Cobrapost revelations, and arrest those implicated by the sting in the Ranveer Sena massacres? Nitish Kumar, soon after taking oath as CM, has declared, “Whoever is breaking the law is a criminal and should be dealt with according to the law irrespective of his standing and position.” Nitish Kumar – you must now walk the talk and put all those revealed to have led or funded and backed the terrorist Ranveer Sena - behind bars.

Free Comrade Manoj Manzil, Arrest Comrade Satish Yadav's Killers

In Agiaon – another of the Bhojpur seats neighbouring Tarari, the popular student-youth activist Comrade Manoj Manzil contested from jail, polling third with 31,789 votes.

In August, on the very eve of the polls, a member of the party’s Agiaon block committee, Comrade Satish Yadav, was killed by the local BJP leader, President of PACS and Ranveer Sena henchman Rinku Singh and his gang. But Satish Yadav’s killers remain free. It was Comrade Manoj who has been jailed on no less than 13 trumped up charges!

Most of these cases relate to a range of agitations led by Comrade Manoj as an activist of AISA, RYA and CPI(ML).

Many of these agitations relate to the rights of students in Dalit hostels and schools. In July 2013, Mithun, a Class VIII student of the Government Ambedkar Boys' Residential School in Ara, died of electrocution when he used the toilet one early morning. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/FIR-against-headmaster-two-others-as-student-dies/articleshow/21438919.cms)

The agitated students of the school blocked the Maula Bagh roundabout for about eight hours, forcing the Bhojpur DM, SP, ASP, and SDO to intervene. The blockade was called off only after the DM admitted the serious dereliction of duties by the school and district welfare authorities, ordered the filing of an FIR and allocated compensation to the victim’s family. This agitation had been led by Comrade Manoj – who was then booked in criminal cases by a vindictive administration. Comrade Manoj also led agitations of Dalit students demanding scholarships, exposing scams in the disbursal of these scholarships. When Dalit hostels were attacked by Ranveer Sena supporters following the death of Brahmeshwar Singh, the Nitish Government, following the ‘action-reaction/let angry people vent their anger’ theory propounded by Modi in Gujarat 2002, had allowed the Ranveer Sena supporters to rampage unchecked. (Watch students narrate their experience of this attack at a Convention in Delhi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca1tOEqgMF0)

Comrade Manoj had been at the forefront of the students’ agitation demanding security, compensation and alternate accommodation. Students had also expressed anger and outrage when the SC/ST Commission Chairperson visited the hostel and tried to defend the Government’s calculated inaction and cover up the role of the Ranveer Sena in the attack.

Yet another of the cases against Comrade Manoj relates to a struggle to liberate land belonging to a Government primary school in Ratnadh village in Agiaon block, from local strongmen. This school, deprived of the 36 katthas of land that was rightfully allocated to it, had just a single classroom in which 485 schoolchildren were crammed. Led by Comrade Manoj, local youth first submitted a memorandum to the administration demanding that the school’s land be freed. When the administration did not act, an agitation of youth led by Comrade Manoj broke the illegal boundary wall and freed the land, on which 5 classrooms have now been built. For the local people, this fulfilled a long-denied aspiration and right.

Comrade Manoj also led successful struggles for electricity in Pavna and Narayanpur – absurdly, he has been booked in attempt to murder cases for these agitations without which the people in the area would have remained deprived of the very same electricity that Nitish Kumar boasts as a feather in his ‘development’ cap.

Comrade Manoj also led struggles in Azeemabad to demand that landless poor be allowed to take possession of land to which they had been given legal papers (patta). Typically, without these struggles, the pattas would remain in name only, while the poor would be denied possession of land that is rightfully theirs.

While in Ara jail, Comrade Manoj had also conducted agitations for prisoners’ rights.

Comrade Manoj has been falsely booked for the murder of Gulab Ram – in spite of the fact that Gulab Ram’s own family members have testified that they witnessed him being killed by another family member due to a long-standing family feud.

Worst of all, Comrade Manoj has been framed in a case of abduction of one Jay Prakash Singh of Azeemabad. In fact, Singh allegedly disappeared soon after Satish Yadav’s murder. Search dogs traced him to his own village Badgaon – strongly suggesting that he had been abducted or kept hostage in his own village. Yet, Comrade Manoj was booked in a case of abduction, with the police claiming that the abduction was in supposed retaliation for Satish Yadav’s murder. Subsequently, an unclaimed dead body turned up that Singh’s son initially said was not that of his father. But later, coached by the cops, Singh’s son said the body belonged to his father. The police are now trying to add a charge of murder to the baseless abduction charge. Meanwhile, no one has been arrested for the murder of Comrade Satish Yadav.

To prove its commitment to the cause of justice, the Grand Alliance Government must ensure that Satish Yadav’s killers are arrested and punished; and withdraw the range of politically motivated cases that a vindictive district administration has slapped on Comrade Manoj, without an iota of evidence.

Siwan: Why Are Champions of Dalits' Land Rights In Jail?

Comrade Satyadev Ram, Bihar President of the agricultural labourers’ union AIARLA defeated the BJP candidate by a margin of 10,000 votes to win the Darauli (SC) seat in Siwan district. RYA All India President Comrade Amarjit Kushwaha polled a close third in the neighbouring Ziradei constituency with 34, 562 votes.

Both Comrades Satyadeo and Amarjit, however, contested elections from jail, thanks to false cases slapped on them in July 2013 during a struggle by Dalit landless labourers in Chilmarva village to occupy land that was rightfully theirs.

Chilmarva village is in Guthni block, in the Darauli constituency. As is common all over Bihar, gairmazarua land had been declared by the block administration in 2012 as land that should be allotted to the Dalits for homesteads, but the said land remained under control of Brahmin landlords backed by the BJP.

Under the banner of the CPI(ML), Dalits occupied the gairmazarua land and built homesteads on it. On 5 July 2013, a violent mob led by the local BJP MLA Ramayan Manjhi, the Brahmin landlords and criminal goons from neighbouring Eastern UP, massed outside Chilmarva village, threatening violent eviction of the Dalits from their rightful land. CPI(ML) leaders Comrades Satyadeo Ram and Amarjit Kushwaha were on the spot. The DM arrived, promised to protect the Dalits, and asked CPI(ML) leaders to disperse. The ASP’s official records note that the CPI(ML) leaders did indeed leave the spot.

But the next day’s events showed that the district administration was in fact colluding in what could have been a horrific massacre of the Dalits. As this video recorded by a TV channel shows https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JjtxAh-t5A, the police and district administration stood watching while the landlords and armed criminals fired at the Dalit villagers in an attempt to recapture the gairmazarua land. The villagers – left completely at the mercy of the feudal mob by the police – defended themselves. In the process, two of the criminal assailants (both outsiders to the area) were killed while CPI(ML)’s Comrade Srinivas Ram was injured.

Interestingly, this video exposes where the BJP MLA Ramayan Manjhi and ‘independent’ MP Om Prakash Yadav, who is now the sitting MP from the BJP, stood on the issue. The channel’s own footage clearly shows shots being fired by assailants on the most desperately poor men and women trying to escape the bullets as they defend their hutments. Belying this reality, both the MLA and MP refer to the assailants as 'aam log' (common people) who are 'victims' of CPI(ML) supporters! It must be remembered that at the time of this attack, the BJP was still in the Nitish-led Bihar Government with the JDU. The famed ‘Sushasan’ of Nitish allowed administration and police to watch as feudal forces launched a murderous attack on Dalits to hold on to land that legally belonged to the Dalits. Defending themselves from the murderous attack turned the poor landless Dalits (and leaders of their party) into criminals.

CPI(ML) leaders Comrades Satyadev Ram and Amarjit Kushwaha had not even been present at the spot – yet the FIR in this case accuses them of having with their own hands fired the shots that killed the two criminals!

Throughout the elections, the BJP and MGB campaigned that it was pointless to vote for Comrade Satyadeo Ram – “He will anyway be hanged for murder,” they jeered. The Dalits and landless poor of Darauli, affronted by this gross injustice, used their votes to give a befitting reply. In Ziradei, Comrade Amarjit’s votes also increased considerably, though his being in jail hampered the party’s campaign.

By electing Comrade Satyadeo and voting for Comrade Amarjit, the people of Siwan paid tribute to the countless martyred comrades including former JNUSU President Comrade Chandrashekhar who resisted the RJD’s mafia leader Shahabuddin and who have braved jail and bullets to defend the rights and dignity of the Dalit landless poor.

Nitish Kumar has already broken his earlier promise of land reforms, tenancy reforms, and homestead land for the poor; his excuse then was that his alliance partner BJP would not allow him to keep those promises. Now, the Grand Alliance Government has no excuses – it must enact these reforms, and without any delay must free Darauli MLA Satyadeo Ram and RYA President Amarjit Kushwaha who have been framed and jailed for fighting for these rights!

Comrade Mahboob Alam and People's Struggles in Balrampur

Comrade Mahboob Alam has once again been elected from the Balrampur seat (formerly Barsoi) in Katihar district, defeating the BJP candidate by a margin of nearly 23000 votes. The CPIML has been elected thrice before from the Barsoi/Balrampur seat.

Comrade Mahboob Alam has faced countless false cases against him – all for having taken up the struggles of poor Dalits, adivasis and Muslims in the area, against powerful landlords. But he has earned the unflinching love and trust of the poor in this extremely backward region – they all know they can count on none but Comrade Mahboob and CPI(ML) in the face of every instance of harassment, injustice and violence. The CPI(ML) struggles here are living instances of staunch secularism on the ground – a secularism crafted not by opportunistic unity of leaders for power, but the solidarities of the powerless against the powerful.

Many other pressing questions of justice confront the Grand Alliance Government.

The CPI(ML) activists convicted under the draconian TADA – on no evidence beyond Kisan Sabha and communist literature – remain in jail, having served more than 14 years. Several including Comrade Shah Chand have died in jail.

The victims of the Bhagalpur riots of 1989 await justice. The police officers who brutalized and killed poor landless Muslims at Forbesganj are yet to face any punishment. Several Muslim youth are in jail framed by the NIA on trumped up charges of terrorism. While the Insaf Manch and CPI(ML) have successfully freed several such youth, several continue to languish in jail.

The Bihar 2015 verdict is rightly recognized across India as a resounding rejection of communal and feudal forces. To do justice to this verdict, the Grand Alliance Government must punish all feudal and communal criminals – and free those revolutionaries whose only crime is that of resisting feudal-communal violence and oppression, as well as all innocent victims of communally biased investigative agencies.

Gujarat under Narendra Modi and his deputy Amit Shah proved to be a veritable graveyard of justice. The Bihar verdict is a rebuff to the same Modi-Shah duo that led the BJP’s Bihar campaign. Now, the onus is on the medium and beneficiary of that historic verdict – the Grand Alliance Government – to ensure that Bihar too does not become a graveyard of justice.

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