The Bathani Tola Massacre

Aheinous act like the Bathani Tola massacre causes waves of revulsion among all civilised sections of society. But it takes a tragedy of this magnitude to remind the bourgeois commentators of the backwardness of feudal Bihar. They invoke this argument not to lift even their little fingers against feudalism but only to interpret it as a fallout of competitive violence between two private corporate armed groups, Ranvir Sena and the CPI(ML), fighting to establish their hegemony in the backward hinterlands of Bihar. This is the consensus opinion shared by a section of the media, the administration and different bourgeois politicians.

Clearly overlooked here are the social contours of the conflict, the underlying reality of struggle for land, wages and social dignity of the rural poor against feudals armed to their teeth with sophisticated weapons. Without going into any situational analysis, they readily apportion equal blame on CPI(ML) for the 'vicious cycle of killings and counter-killings'. What is glossed over here is the fact that numerous earlier provocative firings by Ranvir Sena men, in scores of other villages as well as in Bathani Tola, were met with only defensive resistance. Several earlier acts of killings by this Sena were met by mass resistance and Party activists refused to get provoked. The jaundiced bourgeois opinion cannot see that on the one side is a gang of mercenaries out to kill indiscriminately to buttress a crumbling feudal hegemony and on the other side is a mainstream political party committed to an ideological vision and programmatic basis. Equally blind it is to the fact that while the gangsters can go on a killing-spree hacking down women and children, communists can never harm any innocents in the battle which would be morally repugnant. That is why they fail to question the administration's failure to curb the feudal private armies and turn a Nelson's eye to the active support it offers to the Ranvir Sena. In fact, if at all there is any vicious circle, it is only a cycle of deliberate administrative inaction and more massacres by feudal lords.

Laloo Yadav, the so-called backward caste champion, refuses to go beyond shedding crocodile tears and announcing some populist relief measures and is adamant on the question of accountability of DM and SP and is afraid of taking any action against them, lest that should give any negative message to the upper caste landlords. His comrade at the Centre, the Home Minister with a communist tag, Mr. Indrajit Gupta has also proved that he is incompetent to act. Visiting Bathani Tola, all he did was to belittle the gravity of the crime, calling it a sequel to carnages like Pipra and Belchi. As if Bathani Tolas should be treated as common occurrences like kala azar in Bihar. Mouthing abstract phrases like land reforms, at the site of the carnage when the key perpetrators were still at large, he chided the local police only to shield the higher-ups. Worse, he even promised to modernise the Bihar police and offered to send central paramilitary forces to curb 'extremists'. It didn't occur to him that the personnel in the local police camps remained mute spectators only because they had appropriate signals from the higher-ups. In any case, the 'communist' Home Minister in a bourgeois government is impotent even to act against a lowly DM or a SP.

Bathani Tola has brought out the bankruptcy of a whole bourgeois cross-section against feudal lawlessness and aggression - the bankruptcy of many of their mediapersons, administrators, boastful populist clowns like Laloo, and even the 'communists' presently at their service. Bathani Tola has also firmed up the resolve of the rural poor of Bhojpur to settle all their blood debts in a most befitting manner, to smash the oppressive feudal hegemony. CPI(ML) shall not rest until the ugly feudalism is wiped out from the face of Bihar.