Monday, January 12, 2004

Where landless labourers are treated as slaves

Patna, Jan 12 (IANS) :

Modern-day Bihar continues to live in the feudal ages with upper caste landlords still treating landless labourers as slaves and not paying them minimum wages, said a report of the National Commission for Women (NCW).

In its report on violence and killing of landless labourers, mostly Dalits, in central Bihar's Arwal district, the NCW said upper caste landlords even today used the Ranvir Sena, their private militia, to scare and terrorise them into submission when they raised their voice against exploitation.

A three-member NCW team had visited Arwal last month to probe the killing of Manju Devi, a leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML), by the Ranvir Sena.

Manju Devi was allegedly shot dead in a village in Arwal on November 27 last year by a Ranvir Sena activist for working among landless labourers and helping them voice their protests.

The NCW report expressed its unhappiness that no action had been taken against the Ranvir Sena in the case. It stated that the district administration was not serious in tackling the menace.

In a letter to the Bihar government, the NCW stated that at least 100 women, mostly Dalits and backwards, were killed by suspected Ranvir Sena activists in the last seven years.

"The armed landlords not only deprive minimum wage to landless labourer, they torture and humiliate them time and again," the report said.

The NCW report categorically said that Ranvir Sena killed Manju Devi for uniting landless labourers to assert their rights.

The NCW has demanded the arrest of all accused in her killing.

Besides, it directed the state government to initiate action against the Ranvir Sena and implement the minimum wage law.

The militia targets members of the lowest caste groups, including women and children, for apparently supporting Maoist outfits and left parties that fight against rich upper caste landlords.

The Ranvir Sena is blamed for the killing about 300 people since 1995. It came into existence in 1994 in a village of Bhojpur district to oppose the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML).

Source: NewKerala.com, January 12, 2004

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