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Caste, Politics & the Cycle of Strife
Mammen Matthew*

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

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 to control.

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 Left’s 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 pynes16 for 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 this year.

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, MLA’s 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 1980’s, 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 Dubey’s 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 the ‘Tigers’.

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 President’s rule this year.

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 (RJD’s 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 MLA’s who shifted allegiance to Laloo Prasad Yadav’s 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 1960’s.

5. Naxalbari: A village in West Bengal where the first movement for a Soviet Type uprising was launched in the early 1970’s.

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 1970’s.

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 payment.

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 1960’s. 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 their name…" 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 control.

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 30, 1999.

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 Singh’s 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 Singh’s 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 groups.

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 10, 1999.

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 October 1996.

48. The seven MLAs formed the Revolutionary Communist Party.

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 6,1997.

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.





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