It was around midnight of 18 August. Lights had just been switched off at the Paliganj subdivisional office of the CPI(ML). Five comrades, all members of the Paliganj Dulhinbazar Area Committee (the two adjacent blocks that make up the Paliganj Assembly segment of Patna district in Bihar ), were present at the office. They included Comrade Rajeshwar Mochi, pramukh of Dulhinbazar block panchayat and president of the Patna district unit of All India Agricultural Labour Association, Comrade Jagdev Ram, local Party organiser, Mandeep Goswami, mukhiya of Jarkha panchayat of Paliganj block, Comrade Shivdaani Yadav, office secretary and Comrade Baleshwar Manjhi, secretary of the Paliganj Block Committee of AIALA.
The comrades had just retired to sleep after yet another busy day's work. The Party is conducting a statewide agitation on the issue of immediate relief for Bihar 's millions of flood and drought victims. While the whole of north Bihar is reeling under severe floods, in southern part of the state agriculture has been badly hit by a veritable drought. Instead of reaching relief to the affected people, the RJD government of the state is however busy looting relief materials and raining bullets on the aggrieved people. In all our major areas of work, the Party committees and units of the Kisan Sabha and Khet Mazdoor Sabha and Party activists functioning as elected people's representatives in panchayati raj institutions are therefore in the thick of a major two-pronged campaign: collecting and distributing relief as well as mobilizing the people against the corrupt and repressive political order. As usual, these leading comrades of Paliganj were deeply immersed in this Party campaign and in the service of the people.
Little did the comrades realize that all this would be abruptly disrupted. They probably had no premonition that the night that had fallen would go down as one of the darkest in the history of Bihar , and that the Party office would be transformed into a graveyard. By midnight news reached Patna that the Paliganj office of the Party had been attacked by a group of armed PWG millitants and that all the five comrades had been shot dead while they were asleep. The police station in Paliganj is just a few minutes' walk from the Party office. The patrolling police team had no problem with the militants while some of them were executing this operation and the others encircled the neighbourhood. It was only after the militants had decamped that the police reached the office only to whisk away the corpses of our slain comrades to the Danapur hospital for completing the post-mortem formalities.
It was not till 20 August that the newspapers reported this ghastly incident. But in and around Paliganj, the news of the dastardly killing of CPI(ML) leaders had already spread like wild fire. By the time the dead bodies were taken back to Paliganj thousands had thronged the Paliganj office to have a last glimpse of the slain leaders. Sons, husbands and fathers for some, beloved comrades and friends for them all. The crowd around the office continued to swell till the next morning when defying incessant rains and the muddy tracks of rural Paliganj thousands joined the funeral march. It took one more day for Comrade Baleshwar's body to be recovered. His mutilated body was found in a well in a village called Nirakhpur near the Party office in Paliganj.
The People's War Group has officially justified its Paliganj act and threatened to carry out more such attacks in the days to come. What kind of a war is being waged by killing the people and their leaders? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. The PWG in Bihar has been working overtime as armed henchmen of the RJD. Its squads specialize in capturing booths for RJD and utilizing the protection provided by the RJD regime to disrupt the growing unity and mobilization of the people under the banner of the CPI(ML). In Patna and Jahanabad, the people are quite familiar with the ‘ din mein RJD, raat mein PWG ' (RJD by the day and PWG by the night) phenomenon. And the PWG also renders a major ‘ideological service' to the ruling classes and their media. When TDP leaders are killed by the PWG in Andhra, it is a threat to democracy; but when CPI(ML) leaders are killed by the same PWG in Bihar, it is merely a battle for supremacy between two ML organisations, it is merely an example of ‘mindless violence' that is characteristic of the entire ML movement!
But let the PWG make no mistake. The people and their real communist heroes have always proved, and shall always prove, to be immensely more powerful than a few gun-toting anarchist hirelings. And the martyr comrades of Paliganj shall remain immortal in the onward march of the people they always lived and fought for.