Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Bodycount on in the killing fields of South Bihar

VARGHESE K. GEORGE

PATNA, JANUARY 13: There is palpable fear in south Bihar following a series of violent incidents in recent months. And approaching elections have only added to that fear, given the caste-oriented campaigning of many of the state's politicians.

Jehanabad, Arwal, Aurangabad, Gaya and Bhojpur districts in this highly volatile region have become notorious in the last decade for massacres by extremist Left organisations and the landowners' Ranvir Sena.

The upper caste Bhumihars, considered patrons of the Ranvir Sena, have been BJP supporters but Laloo, too, claims a slice of the votebank. The BJP-sponsored POTA lists the ''Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), People's War (PW) and all its formations and front organisations'' as terrorist organisations, but leaves the Ranvir Sena out.

Former Arwal SP Amitabh Das had written to the state government, urging it to recommend to the Centre the inclusion of Sena in the list. He cited 33 massacres carried out by the Ranvir Sena. However, the government said since POTA is not notified in the state, the question does not arise. Soon after, Das was transferred from Arwal, reportedly at the instance of RJD minister from the region, Akhilesh Singh, a Bhumihar. He reportedly visited the house of an absconder in the Miapur massacre of 34 people in December. The minister denied the allegation.

The people of Pariyar Bigha in Arwal protested against Das's transfer. They felt that the January 3 massacre of five people in the village would not have taken place had Das stayed on. Three Dalits and two persons from the backward caste were killed in the massacre by suspected Ranvir Sena activists.

The Pariyar Bigha massacre has once again set the alarm bells ringing. The MCC has directed its cadres to avenge the killing. The murdered were reportedly sympathisers of the PW. The MCC and PW, once archrivals, have finalised a merger.

Source: The Indian Express, January 14, 2004

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