Rising Injustice, Crime and Repression in Nitish’s Bihar


With every fresh, glaring instance of feudal criminality and mockery of justice, the Nitish Government’s slogan of ‘development with justice’ is being exposed.   
The latest instance is the severe repression on CPI(ML) Central Committee member and former MLA Comrade Rajaram Singh and other activists leading the struggle against the murder of a young panchayat mukhiya (head) in Aurangabad district of Bihar. On 29 March, 32-year-old Chhotu Kushwaha, an RJD-supported panchayat mukhiya, was murdered. The facts indicate that the murder was executed by a criminal gang led by ex-Ranveer Sena leader Sushil Pandey (also an accused in the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre), who is known to be close to the JD(U) MLA from the Goh constituency, Ranvijay Sharma, who also has criminal antecedents and is behind bars.
What is even more notable is that the local police and administration are directly implicated in the murder. The young mukhiya had been raising his voice against the grab of gairmazarua (common land meant for redistribution among landless) by powerful landowners, one of whom is related to the local BDO. The mukhiya was murdered when returning from a visit to the BDO’s office, from where he had left, accompanied by a police constable.    
The CPI(ML) had played a leading role in the resistance to the murder. A struggle front against the murder, of which the CPI(ML) is a leading constituent, is demanding a CBI enquiry into the murder, in which so many powerful people including the MLA, BDO and SHO, are implicated. Under the banner of the joint struggle front, a massive demonstration took place on 2 May at the Aurangabad DM’s office. The police launched a brutal lathicharge on the protestors, singling out former MLA Comrade Rajaram Singh for the severest assault. In the presence of the SP, Comrade Rajaram Singh was severely beaten, on the street as well as twice inside custody. 29 protestors including Comrade Rajaram Singh have been jailed. 
The murders of Chhotu mukhiya and CPI(ML)’s Rohtas secretary Comrade Bhaiyyaram Yadav by JD(U) backed feudal-criminal forces are part of a larger pattern. In Aurangabad itself, the Sushil Pandey gang and JD(U)-backed criminals are implicated in a series of murders of elected representatives and common people from the dalit-backward communities. The Nitish Government had already shown its true colours when it disbanded the Amir Das Commission, shelved the recommendations of the land reform commission, and allowed Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh to get bail: and the acquittal of the accused in the Bathani Tola massacre followed as a natural consequence. Meanwhile, while Brahmeshwar Singh and his team of killers are free, Bodhan Sada and nine others from the musahar community (rechristened ‘mahadalit’ by Nitish) stand sentenced to death on the weakest of evidence, in the Amausi massacre case. Earlier, in the Forbesganj police firing, the Bihar police under Nitish Kumar had shown its class and communal hatred for the poor and minorities who dare to resist powerful and corrupt land grabbers. 
In this backdrop, the CPI(ML) has called for a Bihar bandh on 10 April, demanding justice for Bathani Tola and Forbesganj, Bhaiyyaram Yadav, Chhotu mukhiya, and Bodhan Sada, and protesting the repression against protestors including Comrade Rajaram Singh.    
Popular resistance will continue to grow, upholding the urge for and commitment to justice and democracy – and resisting the regime of repression and injustice!
Struggle Against Mukhiya’s Murder  
The RJD-supported mukhiya of Sonhattu panchayat in Haspura block of Aurangabad district in Bihar, Chhotu Kushwaha was shot dead on 29 March. He had been opposing the grab of gairmazarua land meant for the landless poor, and as a result of his efforts, the land was to be officially measured on 30 March. 38 decimals of gairmazarua land had been grabbed by Bindeshwari Sharma and Narayan Sharma, and the latter is related to the Haspura BDO. On 29 March, Chhotu mukhiya was called to Haspura by the BDO. On his return journey by bike, he was initially accompanied by a police constable, who however alighted from the bike on the way, and the murder happened soon after. The suspected killers are of the Sushil Pandey gang, close to the criminal JD(U) MLA Ranvijay Sharma who is in jail. Since the MLA, SP, SHO, and BDO are all implicated in the murder, we have demanded a CBI enquiry into the killing.  

Appeal to CJI for

Justice for Bathani Tola

An ongoing petition appealing to the Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India for justice for the victims of the Bathani Tola massacre and other massacres of the poor and oppressed in Bihar is receiving  widespread support.  
The appeal says, “The fact that, 16 years after this massacre, not a single person stands convicted for the brutal and barbaric slaughter of innocents, raises disturbing questions about whether the oppressed and the poor victims of massacres can expect justice in our Courts.”
It notes that “The Bihar HC acquittal comes in the wake of this political climate of patronage for the perpetrators of massacres of the poor and oppressed.” 
The appeal expresses “the hope that the Supreme Court will correct the deep injustice to victims and survivors of Bathani Tola, and will take all possible measures to ensure that the perpetrators of this and other heinous massacres of the poor and oppressed in Bihar are tried and convicted.” Signatories till now include Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy, Anand Patwardhan, Uma Chakravarti, Anand Chakravarti, Amit Bhaduri, Jean Dreze, Nivedita Menon, Gautam Appa, Professor Emeritus, LSE, David Landau, anti-fascist activist in London, Cecilie Jackson, Professor of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, Loius Godena, Margaret Dickinson, London-based filmmaker, Naeem Malik, human rights activist based in Birmingham, Sarbjit Johal, Nandini Sundar, ND Pancholi, Kalpana Wilson (SASG, UK), Bela Bhatia, Nirmalangshu Mukherji, SV Rajadurai, Kavita Srivastava,
PUCL, Abha Dev Habib, Manisha Sethi, Kalpana Mehta, Kirity Roy, MASUM, Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee For Communal Amity), Ashley Tellis, Mahtab Alam, Indira Chakravarty, Dr. Padma Balasubramanian, Jyoti Punwani, Madhu Prasad, Nicolas Jaoul, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, E Rati Rao.

On 2 April, a Haspura bandh was observed on CPI(ML)’s call. The Mukhiya Sangh supported the call, and the protest meeting on the day of the bandh was addressed by former CPI(ML) MLA Comrade Rajaram Singh, and former RJD MP Kanti Singh. A huge gathering attended a Sankalp Sabha on 5 April, at which the Chhotu Mukhiya Hatya Virodhi Sangharsh Morcha (struggle front against the murder) was formed, and it was announced that if Sushil Pandey was not arrested within a month, a massive protest march would be held on 2 May.
Brutal Repression
The DM’s permission had been especially sought and taken for the 2 May procession. Yet, the police launched a brutal lathicharge, attacking not just the protestors but even common bystanders. Comrade Rajaram Singh, who is the main leader in the struggle, was especially targeted for the most severe beating, which took place in the presence of the SP. Even inside the police station, Comrade Rajaram Singh was beaten twice. Chhotu mukhiya’s wife was also beaten up and arrested, but later released. But 29 protestors, most of them CPI(ML) supporters as well as Comrade Rajaram Singh, have been jailed. 
On 2 May itself, CPI(ML) protests against the brutal repression took place at Daudnagar, Arwal, Kurtha and Jehanabad. A state-wide protest day and an Aurangabad bandh called by CPI(ML) was observed on 4 May. On 5, 6 and 7 May, a 3-day dharna was held by the CPI(ML) at Patna. State Secretary Comrade Kunal visited Comrade Rajaram Singh in jail. A Bihar Bandh was then called by the party on 10 May, ‘Against Rising Injustice, Crime and Police repression, for Justice and Democracy’, highlighting the questions of the Bathani Tola verdict, murders of Comrade Bhaiyyaram and Chhotu mukhiya, the death sentence for Bodhan Sada, and the Forbesganj firing.
Bihar Bandh
The May 10 Bihar Bandh called by the CPI(ML), in which the main demand was for dismissal of the DM and SP responsible for the brutal police assault on protestors against Aurangabad’s Chhotu Mukhiya, especially the attack on CPI(ML) CCM Comrade Rajaram Singh, received a very warm response. Several train routes were blockaded, and the GT Road as well as other national highways and state highways and main roads connecting district HQs with blocks, were blockaded for hours.
In the state capital, Patna, the first contingent of Bandh supporters marched from Patna Railway Station to Dakbangla Crossing, which they completely blockaded. This contingent was led by CCM Comrade KD Yadav, AIALA National President Rameshwar Prasad and General Secretary Dhirendra Jha, RYA GS Kamlesh Sharma, State Committee members Umesh Singh, Satyanarayan Prasad and others.  
The main contingent led by party GS Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, PBMs Ramjatan Sharma, Nand Kishor Prasad, Amar, State Secretary Kunal, Central office secretary Prabhat Kumar, AISA State Secretary Abhyuday, and others marched from the south gate of Gandhi Maidam at 11 am and converged at Dakbangla Crossing, where a mass meeting was held, addressed by Comrade Dipankar, AISA-RYA leaders Comrades Abhyuday and Kamlesh, and other senior party leaders.  

Left Parties’ Convention in Bihar Against Rising Injustice, Crime, and Repression

On 14th May, five Left parties – the CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), Forward Bloc, and SUCI(C) – held a joint Convention in Patna against the rising instances of injustice, crime, and state repression.
The Convention was addressed by CPI(ML) Politburo member Comrade Ramji Rai; State Secretary Kunal; Central Committee member Comrade Rameshwar Prasad; CPI(M) State Secretary Comrade Vijaykant Thakur; State Secretariat member Arun Mishra; CPI State Secretary Comrade Badrinayaran Lal; State Secretariat members Jitendranath, Arjun Prasad Singh, Gaznafar Nawab; Comrade Vakeel Thakur from Forward Bloc and SUCI(C) State Secretary Comrade Arun Singh.
Apart from these Left leaders, intellectuals including Prof. Naval Kishore Choudhury, and Prof. Bharti S Kumar (Head of the History Department at Patna University), also addressed the Convention. Social activist Rupesh and Prof. Santosh Kumar also participated in the Convention.    
The presidium of the Conference comprised CPI(ML) CCM KD Yadav, CPI(M) State Secretariat member Sargandhar Paswan, Vijay Narayan Mishra of CPI, America Mehto of Forward Bloc, and Shivlal Prasad of SUCI(C). 
The feudal and communal character of the Nitish Government behind the corporatized media-managed facade stands exposed, the Left leaders felt, even as they planned for united Left initiatives and agitations. The Convention called for joint dharnas and demonstrations of all Left parties at district HQs on 15 June.
The political resolutions were placed by CPI(ML)’s Bihar State Committee member Abhyuday. CPI(M)’s Ajay Kumar Singh thanked the gathering for a successful Convention. CPI(ML)’s PB member Comrade Amar, CCMs Meena Towari and Saroj Chaubey, and other leaders including Snatosh Sahar, Shashi Yadav, Satyanarayan Prasad, Sudhir Kumar and others were also present at the Convention.

AIPWA State Secretary Shashi Yadav and Patna town committee member Murtaza Ali led a sizeable procession in the Chitkohra-Aneesabad area, which blockaded the junction for hours. Another huge procession led by AICCTU State Secretary Ranvijay and party town committee member Pannalal closed shops and markets in Kankadbad. This procession too reached Dakbangla Crossing and joined the main gathering there.
AIPWA State Joint-Secretary Anita Sinha and party town committee member Satyendra Sharma led scores of bandh supporters to blockade the Bailey Road at Ashiyana turning for two hours, holding a mass meeting there. In Patna City, CPI(ML)’s Area Committee secretary Naseem Ansari, peasant leader Shambhunath Mehta, RYA leaders Ramnarayan Singh and Suresh Sahni led a massive procession which closed down shops in the mandi area, and then blockaded Shaheed Bhagat Singh crossing.      
Addressing the mass meeting at Dakbangla Crossing, Comrade Dipankar said that the successful bandh, supported by all sections of people, is a challenge to Nitish’s rule, and that the struggle to ensure justice for the victims of Forbesganj firing, Comrade Bhaiyyaram, Comrade Surendra Yadav, Mukhiya Chhotu Mushwaha, and to ensure a CBI enquiry into the Aurangabad murder and police barbarism, dismissal of the DM and SP of Aurangabad, and immediate release of the 29 jailed protestors including Comrade Rajaram Singh, and justice for Bathani Tola victims, would continue.
Scores of bandh supporters were arrested all over Patna, and including Party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, State Secretary Comrade Kunal, and several PBMs and CCMs.    
The Purva Express was stopped at Ara, truck traffic was completely stopped at Jehanabad, and the Patna-Gaya train line could not function. Trains were stopped at Darbhanga, Vaishali, Biharsharif, Forbesganj, Siwan, Sikta, Gaya, Kaimur and West Champaran. Huge processions stopped the functioning of Courts at Gopalganj and Jaynagar. Buses, schools, and shops remained non-functional under pressure from bandh supporters at many places all over the State.

District secretaries of Samastipur, Biharsharif, Bhabhua and CPI(ML)’s Rohtas leader Jawahar Yadav were among those arrested while blockading highways and streets, and mass arresting took place at Madhubani, West Champaran, Bhabhua, Chhapra, and Ara.

Nyay Yatra: Demanding Justice     

Highlighting the instances of gross injustice in Nitish’s rule and calling the bluff of Nitish’s slogan of ‘Nyay ke saath Vikas’ (Justice with Development), the CPI(ML) held an intensive Nyay Yatra (Journey for Justice) in Bihar. 
In Shahabad, the Nyay Yatra began by garlanding the memorial to the Bathani Tola martyrs. It was flagged off by CPI(ML)’s Standing Committee member and former MLA Comrade Arun Singh.
This contingent covered the Bhojpur-Rohtas-Bhabhua-Buxar districts, holding street-corner meetings, foot-marches and intensive mass contact, highlighting the injustice done to the Bathani Tola victims by the acquittal of Ranveer Sena killers and the bail for Brahmeshwar Singh, and the murder of Bhaiyyaram Yadav. This leg of the Yatra was led by State Committee member Sudama Prasad Singh, Rohtas Secretary Jawahar Singh, former MLA Chandradeep Singh, Comrade Qayamuddin and other leaders. 
The Nyay Yatra in the Magadh zone was led by Standing Committee member and Arwal District Secretary Mahanand, Aurangabad District Secretary Anwar Husain, Gaya District Secretary Niranjan Kumar, AIPWA leader Rita Barnwal, RYA leader Ravindra Yadav, AIALA leader Upendra Paswan and others. The Yatra began by paying homage at the memorial to the martyrs of Laxmanpur Bathe and was flagged off by PB member Comrade Ramjatan Sharma. This leg of the Yatra covered Kaler, Arwal, Kurtha, and Obra, Hasanpura, Pachrukhiya in Aurangabad and Gaya-Jehanabad, highlighting the Aurangabad police assault on protestors and arrest of 29 including Comrade Rajaram Singh.  
The Nyay Yatra in Siwan began by paying homage to Comrade Cjhandrashekhar, and was led by RYA State President Amarjit Kushwaha, Suman Singh Kushwaha, Sujeet Subhani and other youth leaders. Highlighting the fact that Shahabuddin is yet to be punished for Chandrashekhar’s murder, the Yatra covered Siwan, Jagdishpur, Maharajganj, Husainganj, Aandar, Darauli, Guthni, Mairwa, Nautan and other places in Siwan, as well as Chhapra, Gopalganj, Champaran.
The Nyay Yatra in Purnea began by paying homage to Comrade Ajit Sarkar’s memorial and covered Rupaspur, Chandwa, Araria, Supaul and other districts, led by CCM Comrade Saroj Choubey, and Purnea District Secretary Pankaj Singh, and highlighting the issues of justice for Rupam Pathak, as well as the question of land reform and land grab.
In Patna the Nyay Yatra covered Fatuha, Danyanva, Khusrupur, Nalanda, Masaurhi, Paliganj, Dulhinbazar, Vikram, Naubatpur, and Bihta. Leaders of this contingent included AIKM leaders Umesh Singh, Gopal Singh Gopi, and Vidyanand Bihari.    
The various contingents of the Nyay Yatra converged at Patna on 21 May and deposed their experiences at a Public Hearing (Jan Sunwai) at the capital, Patna. 

Public Hearing for Justice and Democracy

Several thousands of people, including working people, rural poor, intellectuals and writers participated in a Jan Sunwai at Patna. Participants deposed on their experiences of struggles for justice in the Bathani Tola case, the Rupam Pathak case, the Aurangabad police lathicharge, and several political killings.
Bathani massacre survivor Nayeemuddin Ansari deposed at the hearing, recounting his long quest for justice since 1996. He said that the Bihar HC verdict was a rude shock, and that he and other survivors would appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court, since if the judiciary is serious about justice, it cannot let a cold-blooded massacre of 21 innocents go unpunished.
AIKM leader Sudama Prasad noted that all accused had been acquitted not only in the Bathani Tola case but also in the Khagdi-Bigha and Jahir-Bigha massacre cases; and while Dharma Singh, the main accused in the Bathe massacre, had been sentenced to death, he continues to be a contractor protected by the BJP-JD(U). He spoke of the facts in the Amausi case, where 10 musahars including Bodhan Sada have been sentenced to death and 16 to life, without any credible evidence.
CPI(ML)’s Aurangabad district secretary Anwar Husain deposed at length about the facts indicating the involving Goh’s JD(U) MLA in the murder of Chhotu Mukhiya, and in conspiring with the DM and SP for the police assault on protestors against the murder.
Naval Kishor of Araria deposed about the firing and brutality by police at Forbesganj, where no one has been punished though a year has passed.
AIPWA leader Saroj Choubey shared the experience of taking up Rupam Pathak’s struggle for justice. She said Rupam has been denied a chance to defend herself, and her complaints of rape have been deliberately suppressed instead of seriously investigated.

The Jan Sunwai was addressed by CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. Among others who spoke at the Jan Sunwai were CPI(ML) leaders KD Yadav and Arun Singh, CPI leader Vijaynarayan Mishra, CPI(M) State Secretariat Member Sargandhar Paswan, Rupesh of Lok Parishad, America Mehto of Forward Bloc, SUCI(C)’s State Secretary Arun Kumar Singh and Ashok Priyadarshi of Lok Mukti Sangharsh Vahini, Sant Singh, national secretary of the Shoshit Samaj Dal.  Other participants included Prem Kumar Mani of the Bihar Parivartan Morcha, Prof. Bharti S. Kumar and Prof. Santosh Kumar, short story writer Ravindra Bharati, educationist Ghalib and others. The 7-member jury comprising Prof MN Karn, Prof NK Chaudhury, Padma Shri recipient Sudha Verghese, Kishori Das (PUCL), Manikant Thakur (BBC), Advocate Yogesh Verma and CPI(ML) PB member Comrade Ramji Rai, heard the depositions and delivered a verdict indicting the Nitish Government and its administration for protecting political assassins, repressive police officers, and feudal killers. The jury opined that there was need for a CBI enquiry into the Forbesganj firing, Aurangabad incidents, the killings of Bhaiyyaram of Rohtas, Surendra Yadav of Samastipur, and Chhotu mukhiya of Aurangabad, release of Rupam Pathak and a CBI investigation of her complaints of rape. The jury held that the Bihar Government should challenge the bail order for Brahmeshwar Singh and appeal to the SC to correct the biases of police and prosecution in the Bathani Tola case. The jury held that assaults on democracy were on the rise in Bihar, and injustice was taking place in the name of ‘justice’. The jury supported the ongoing struggle of people for real justice and democracy.