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New Delhi
Citizens' Meeting for Justice to the
Victims of Bathani Tola Calls for
Immediate Action against Bhojpur District Officials

A meeting of prominent in tellectuals, advocates, representatives of political parties, mass organisations and cultural personages took place in Delhi on 22 August. Leaders of civil liberties and human rights organisations including Shri VM Tarkunde (PUCL), Kuldeep Nayyar (LFD), Justice Rajinder Sachchar (PUCL) were present.

In the beginning, Comrade Vinod Mishra, General Secretary of CPI(ML), gave a detailed account of the incident and the backdrop of the incident as well as the government apathy. He mentioned 25000 killings occur every year in Bihar alone. Massacres are the means of suppressing the struggles of the dalits, minorities and the oppressed sections of society. He said that the gruesome massacre at 'Bathani Tola' stands in an entirely different category from any other massacre which is a common feature in Bihar. He said that the government, other political parties and a section of the media are trying to dilute the seriousness of this issue by bracketing it with other killings in Bihar. There was no immediate issue of land and wages in Bathani Tola, he said adding that there was a communal angle to the carnage since the issue of kabristan, imambara, and karbala land had become an issue of tension between the Ranvir Sena and the Muslim masses. This fact has not been reported well to the outside world. Comrade Mishra stressed the connivance of the local administration with the feudal forces, saying that it was not accidental that CR Kaswan of Arwal fame was made the SP of Bhojpur even after his criminal record in West Champaran and Arwal. He mentioned the 'fatwa' issued by the Ranvir Sena in favour of BJP in the last elections. He mentioned how a planned propaganda is now going on against the CPI(ML), talking of the possibility of another massacre in reaction to this massacre. The police have also started an all-out offensive against CPI(ML).

Justice Rajinder Sachchar said that it is really shameful that CR Kaswan was still an SP in Bhojpur till the other day and no action had been taken against him for his misdeeds. It just shows that there is a conspiracy behind this posting. He said that if the government remains insensitive, there will no other path left to the people but to react in their own way. The responsibility will solely lie with the government then.

Shri Kuldip Nayyar said the ruling party is trying to give a political colour to the brutal killing of innocents, which is really unfortunate and reeks of dictatorial rule and police raj.

Mr.Tarkunde emphasised the need of a departmental enquiry into the incident and punishment to the D.M. and S.P. of Bhojpur. He proposed that a committee be formed to pressurise the government and other political parties. He also proposed that Comrade Rameshwar Prasad break his fast-unto-death on the appeal of the house since they would take forward his struggle.

Among other speakers were Vijay Pratap (Lokayan), Sharmila (PUDR), Tapan Sen (CITU), Dr.Aparna of CPI(ML) TND, Achin Vanaik, AN Das, Kuber Dutt, Dr. D.Prempathi and Kumudini (AIPWA).

Later a committee was formed comprising VM Tarkunde, Rajinder Sachchar, Kuldip Nayyar, Nikhil Chakravarty, Rajni Kothari and Lal Bahadur Singh.

It was also demanded that all reports of inquiry on massacres since 1980 should be made public and action be initiated on the same.

The convention also issued an appeal to be sent to Comrade Rameshwar Prasad to break his fast in jail.

A resolution passed at the meeting said, "We, the concerned citizens of Delhi, who have assembled here today at the IMA Hall, call for immediate action on the part of both the Union Government of India as well as the State Government of Bihar. Action is the need of the hour. Action must be taken against the heads of a district administration who have not only miserably failed but have displayed and continue to display utter apathy in their basic duty to protect the lives of poor and unarmed people in their district. And if the two governments are really serious about curbing the phenomenon of private feudal armies in the state, let no stone be unturned to disarm the Ranvir Sena which has also begun to assume a communal-fascist character."

Around 200 signatures of prominent citizens have been collected already and the campaign continues. A demand letter addressed to the Prime Minister will be given along with these signatures.


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