People's March January 1999
(A tale of Resistance Struggle of the last two years in the planes of Central Bihar)
In Bihar, State has adopted from the beginning, two methods to crush the armed peasant resistance struggle:
First, by organising caste-based landlord-army and providing them administrative and political support and Second, by launching state repressive measures itself. In the beginning of the movement, the first aspect was primary and direct intervention of the state played a secondary role. Govt. launched repressive operations but they were time hound and confined to a limited area. The command and coordination of the police forces were not much centralised and organised. But after Arwal massacre in 1986, when the police opened fire on a peaceful mass meeting killing 23 and injuring dozens; the state came out in its true colour more openly before the struggling masses. After '86, the state repression started taking a more organised and planned course. This began with the banning of MKSS a militant peasant organisation of Bihar. The initial response of the erestwhile CPI(ML) [Party Unity] was to launch mass resistance against the repression and preparing for armed resistance by : a) expanding the mass base vertically through mobilising middle peasants and other sections of people -in rural areas politically; b) expanding the base horizontally, i.e. expanding the area of resistance; and c) strengthening the party and the guerilla squads. Since 1992 the state offensive intensified and organised and the revolutionaries also began resisting militarily by attacking police forces and other govt. offices. Since then armed clashes between the state forces and the communist guerrillas became more frequent.
Since last three years revolutionaries are fighting the landlord army Ranvir Sena as well as the Bihar Police forces and Para-military forces. We shall, however, deal here with the resistance struggle of last two Years against the state forces and the Ranvir Sena. Ranvir Sena is a new phenomenon. We will deal with the resistance against the State repression and Ranvir Sena simultaneously.
Nov. 8,1998, CPI(ML)[PW]'s armed squads surrounded village Rampur (Karpi, Jehanabad) and annihilated seven active supporters of Ranvir Sena - the notorious landlord army of Central Bihar. Barely a kilometer west there is -a police picket at village Aiyara (Karpi) to protect the Ranvir Sena goons and there is another police picket about two kilometer South of Rampur at Imamganj Bazar. One section of armed squad engaged the Aiyara police picket in encounter, another section blocked the Imamgan-Rampur route and the rest punished Arjun Singh and other Ranvir goons who had killed three agricultural labourers, while they were working in their field, on July 25, 1988 at Rampur.
Emergence of Ranvir Sena.
Ranvir Sena, now, has earned a lot much disrepute because of the medieval barbarity it displays in its operations. It is a private 'army' of the landlords and reactionaries based on Bhumihar caste - politically and economically the most dominant caste in the Central Bihar and a good part of North Bihar. As the revolutionary peasant movement developed, the landlords and feudal reactionaries driven by the fear of losing their age-old authority in the countryside, took offensive -and formed various private armies. Not only the old type landlords belonging to caste-Hindus organised goons of their respective castes also followed them, sometimes with more- ferocity. In Bihar, the widespread culture of arms and strong cast feelings facilitated such armed formations on caste basis Govt., with all its might, encouraged and backed such landlords armies and the latter have their patrons in the ranks of their caste leaders in various bourgeois parties and also in the bureaucracy.
Thus, revolutionary peasant movement had to confront Bhumi Sena formed by landlords and reactionaries of Kurmi Caste, Lorik Sena of reactionaries belonging to Yadav caste, Kunwar Sena, Krishak Sevak Samaj and Sunlight Sena of landlords and reactionaries of Rajputs, Kisan Sangh of reactionaries of Kurmies, Yadavs and Bhumihars etc. The reactionaries and the landlords belonging to Bhumihar castes had also tried to organise a Sena earlier. Bhumihar landlords formed Brabmarshi Sena and Swam Liberation Front. But both these armed formations were not so well organised and could not survive due to people's resistance and its own internal contradiction. Ranvir Sena was formed in Bhojpur by the end of 1994. Incidentally, it should be mentioned that almost all the major landlord armies in Central Bihar first developed in the area under the influence of Liberation group where the feudal and reactionary forces found a more congenial atmosphere and in the presence of a compromising and class-collaborationist policies of a 'left' force they developed faster. Thus, Bhoomi Sena and Kisan Sangh, the two-better organised armed gangs developed in that part of Patna district which is dominated by the Liberation group and Ranvir Sena developed in Bhojpur district, the socalled citadel of Liberation group. Bhojpur struggle, in the beginning, challenged the feudal and upper caste domination but later on as the revisionist leadership took a U-turn, the struggle was degenerated into that of mere wage and other partial social and economic issues. Land and arms - the two legs of landlords in Bihar - must be seized to cripple and ultimately smash the feudal authority. As long as these two continue to exist, they would work as the breeding ground for private armies. The other factors such as grip of certain caste army on bureaucracy and state body politics, caste feelings which encourage the middle and sometimes even poor peasants to join the caste army etc. add, in the main, flesh to the frame. Liberation group didn't do this job -they didn't launch arm seizure programme, and land seizure programme as a campaign. So, the breeding ground was always there. Moreover, the parliamentarism of Liberation group which gave rise to various class collaborationist policies, encouraged Ranvir Sena to continue with its killing spree.
Repression & resistance in the last two years
Ranvir Sena struck first at Sarthua (Bhojpur) on January 25, '95 and killed 6 supporters of Liberation group. Till the end of January 19, '97, within a span of two years, Ranvir Sena massacred more than 150 people at 13 places including Bathanitola of Barki-kharaun village in Sahar (Bhojpur) where 22 persons - mostly women and children were butchered - in the most barbaric manner.
For two years the Sena confined its operations in a few blocs of Bhojpur. By the end of '96, it began to cross river Sone and tried to expand in Magadh - the stronghold of erstwhile CPI(ML)[Party Unity]. It first chose village Jalpura (Pali, Patna) at the bank of river Sone where landless and poor peasants have fighting since long for 700 acres of gair-mazurua land of river bank. People had won the struggles. The district administration, to divert the struggle intervened and distributed 300 beeghas of land among the landless. The landlords and reactionaries were then beginning to surrender. People were resisting the move of the administration and demanding for the distribution of entire land. In this period, precisely Ranvir Sena stepped into the village with the help of nearby reactionary dominated villages like Massourha, Kaab, Raghopur etc. They burnt the Sarkanda and on 28th Jan.'97 attacked the landless tola of Jalpura looting the property and forcing the landless to flee and leave the village. On Feb. 1, '97 the armed squads of CPI(ML)[PU] attacked the supporters of Ranvir Sena who were forcibly cultivating a part of disputed 700 acres of land. Immediately after an encounter took place at about 11 a.m. between the armed guerilla squads and Ranvir Sena-police combine (a police picket has been in the village in the protection of the landlords). Soon reinforcement took place and almost 200 policemen joined the encounter. The encounter lasted for 7 hours in which 5 Ranvir Sena supporters and activists and one police were annihilated.
This was the first big blow to Ranvir Sena in Magadh in the very beginning. On 31st January 1997 in Jehanabad-Gaya border, 45 Kms. away from Jalpura, at village Machhil (Hariharpur Tola) of Makhdampur PS., another batch of Sena massacred 3 supporters of mass organisation, including the village secretary. On Feb.15, '97, armed squads of PU annihilated 6 of Ranvir Sena at Turri where the assailants planned for massacre. In the month of March, 1997 Ranvir Sena struck again at village Haibaspur (Patna district) on 23rd, killing 10 dalit agricultural labourers and at village Akopur on 28th March '97 (Arwal, Jehanabad) killing 3 agricultural labourers - supporters of Liberation group. On 10.04.97 police and Ranvir goons jointly massacred 7 poor people at Ekwari (sahar, Bhojpur). In retaliation to these massacres, squads of Party Unity attacked village Raghopur (Bikram), which is the village of BJP MLA Janardhan Sharma, one of the chief patrons of Ranvir Sena and smashed the house of MLA and annihilated 6 sympathizers of Ranvir Sena on April 20, '97. As the squads were retreating, the police force ambushed them near village karnpura (Palli, Patna) on April 22, '97. Squads immediately retaliated and a small police party fled. Squads burnt down the police jeep. But on April 23rd '97, police attacked the village Indo. The squad stationing there retreated after an encounter, but another squad which had taken a shelter nearby, came to rescue the Indo squad and was trapped in the encirclement. In this encounter at village Indo (Massourhi) 6 comrades of a guerilla squad were killed including Corn. Lalit (Commander) and Corn. Brind (Deputy Commander). In protest people burnt down the railway stations Nadma and Chakand.
Meanwhile as the attacks of Ranvir Sena began in magadh, especially Patna and Jehanabad district the police repression also intensified. Raids, illegal arrests, looting people's properties, spoiling cereals, beating and abusing, and fake encounters became a routine. For 12 March '97 incident, police arrested 4 members of peasant mass organisation including village secretary Rustom Javed from village Tali, Jehanabad and beat them severely. They beat Corn. Rustam Javed to death in police custody. It evoked massive mass resistance in the form Bandh, road blockades and protest demonstrations.
On the eve of Arwal day 19th April '97, police in civil dress alongwith a notorious police agent Sriniwas of village Rampur (Karpi, Jehanabad), who is now, also, Jehanabad district leader of Ranvir Sena, attacked a torchlight procession at Imamganj Bazar. They shot corn. Pawan Nat, a local activist of mass organisation and in retaliation people immediately shot the driver of the police jeep (who was in fact the driver of Jehanabad S.P.). Mass meeting at Jehanabad, scheduled on .19th April, 97 was foiled and leaders were arrested and severely beaten. On 18 May '97 police killed a sympathizer 6f PU in fake encounter at village Dadpur (Ghoshi, Jehanabad) after an encounter between guerilla squads and the raiding police in which a constable was killed and two policemen were injured. Again on 24 May '97 CRP forces tried to encircle and kill a guerrilla squad at village Azad Beegha (Bela, Gaya) in which the later retreated after four hours of encounter.
The fresh repression campaign unleashed by the police encouraged the attacks of Ranvir Sena on the struggling people. At many places they called on their caste bretheren to foil the economic blockade imposed by struggling masses on selected landlords and reactionaries. To foment the caste sentiments, they even killed an innocent shopkeeper belonging to Bhumihar caste, Jitendra Singh of village Rampur (Karpi) on 15th August '97 and on 16th blocked the Jehanabad-Arwal road accusing Naxalites behind this murder. Immediately PU came with posters denying the charges and declaring a memorial meeting. The plot was exposed very soon. Then they tried to mobilise their caste men from Bhojpur and other places to break economic blockade at Aiyara (Karpi). It also failed as the police intervened to save its own face.
Meanwhile Ranvir Sena increased their movement in squads in PU's area. One such armed band of goons encountered a guerilla squad in the fields of village Ankuri (Pali) in which five of their gunmen were killed in Sept.'97.
Observing increased police and Ranvir Sena's repression Party called on the rank and file and the people to resist the state and the reactionaries both by mobilising masses and also militarily. Against the police-Ranvir nexus a massive mass mobilisation was sought at Ara - the centre of Ranvir goons - on Nov.11 '97 on the eve of November Revolution celebration programmes. Police of Magadh region and Bhojpur made all efforts to prevent the meeting. They held 55 vehicles full of demonstrators near Dulhin Bazar (Patna), more than 18 vehicles at Arwal (Jehanabad), 20 vehicles at Kinzar (Jehanabad) and many vehicles elsewhere. As people protested at Dulhin Bazar, heavy lathi charge ensued injuring many men and women activists of organisation and peasant masses. Even a two year child was not spared. mikes, banners and flags were seized and destroyed. People resorted to stone throwing. At Arwal few activists were detained. However, at Ara 1000 people gathered and demonstrated on the roads shouting slogans against the Ranvir Sena and the police. In the mass meeting, Ranvir goons hurled four bombs and two granades which fortunately didn't explode because of wet land and some technical faults. Police during all these happening remained a mute spectator. Resisting police atrocities during the course of this programme guerilla squad exploded the parts of Arwal bloc (Jehanabad) on Nov. 13.
Party Unity in August, 97 gave a call to seize the arms of the police and the reactionaries. For three months it became the main task. During these three months in Magadh alone more than 50 arms were seized from the police and the reactionaries. The campaign includes the raid on the Bishunganj police picket (under Makhdampur P.S. of Jehanabad) on Oct. 8 '97. The squads pasted a poster after the raid which reads "This raid has been carried out with a view to disarm the repressive police forces which imposed an undeclared ban on mass movements and has launched a campaign of encountering of revolutionaries, bulldozing houses of activists and sympathizers, illegal arrest of struggling peasants, looting and seizing of property of villagers in the name of attachment of property."
Similar raids also took place in Koel-Kaimur region (that is Palamau, Garhwa, Rohtas, Bhabhua, South Aurangabad, Lohardagga and Gumla districts). After one such successful raid at Kandi (Majhiaon, Garhwa), second raid was attempted at Dabara (Lesliganj, Palamau) on Nov.28, '97. In this raid senior RCM of Magadh Corn. Promod alias Umesh Yadav (34), who was also in-charge of Sainya Sanchalan Team (SST) of Magadh, and Com. Ranjit alias Prayag Ram (25), an ACM and Commander of one of the Bishrampur squads became martyrs.
Baffled by the defeats at the hands of CPI(ML)[PU], Ranvir Sena planned a big massacre in desperation. Their aim was to terrorise the masses by displaying more barbarity and brutality. They chose village Bathe (Arwal, 3ehanabad) at the bank of river Sone. In the night of Dec. 1,'97, the marauders attacked Batan Beegha tola of Bathe and killed 58 persons including 32 women, 14 children and 8 old men. In one of the most barbaric acts they raped at least three pregnant women and killed even the babies of one and half to three years. As a rehearsal of this diabolical design, they massacred 6 poor peasants and agricultural labourers of Orani Tola - Mangabeegha (Karpi, Jehanabad) on Nov.22, '97. Bathe massacre evoked nation-wide reaction and the democratic and progressive forces protested the killing and the police-Ranvir nexus. Outside Bihar at Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Punjab, several protest marches, meetings and seminar were organised. In Bihar revolutionary and democratic forces formed "People's Campaign Against Bathe Massacre" which organised a number of mass protest programmes.
As was expected, police launched a repression campaign against the masses in the name of averting any possible retaliatory Naxalite move against the Sena. Bihar Govt. demanded 50 companies of para-military forces and was provided 45 companies immediately. The aim of the police combing were:
i) The sensitive area, that is the area where Ranvir leaders and patrons were in target, should be free from Communist guerilla squads.
ii) Creating terror among the people by implicating them in false cases, beating men and women, destroying houses and properties etc., so that they may not give shelter to guerilla squads.
iii) Preventing mass protest programmes to augment terror and prevent the spread of resistance.
Administration set up police pickets at the houses of targeted Ranvir gang leaders. They guarded Sone bank for several days to ensure that guerrillas may not cross Sone and reach Bhojpur in big numbers. In a planned manner the police forces harassed the middle peasants of Bhumihar caste and left the big-fishes untouched to foment the caste sentiment. Govt. also tried to project it as a caste struggle.
Almost each and every village of Jehanabad district and blocs of contiguous Patna district were raided. On Jan. 6 '98 they raided 45 villages in a day in Makhdampur bloc in search of guerilla squads. At many places the police forces exchanged fire among themselves in terror and projected those as encounters with Naxalites. On Dec. 27, '97 during such raid in an encounter at Kodhiara (Pali) two squad members Corn. Bhtali Mazhi (27) and Corn. Pappu (21) became martyrs. In retaliation of this incident Ranti bloc (Jehanabad) was blown. According to an estimate more than 500 people were arrested within two months.
As the crop season came nearer, district administration tried to form 'Peace Committees' in village Aiyara-Rampur. Party called upon the people to boycott such 'Peace Committees'. People in this area had a bitter experience regarding such 'Peace Committees'. During Kansara struggle also, district administration formed 'Peace Committees' and reactionaries then could caught and massacred four bidi labourers (in 1986) who were uncareful and unprepared. People at Rampur, Aiyara boycotted such peace committees as they were designed to sabotage economic blockade. But a few agricultural labourers couldn't understand the intrigue and believed the reactionaries. At Rampur the reactionaries called on three agricultural labourers to work in their field on July 25th '98. As they were already in the 'peace committee' they believed the reactionaries. While working in the field, they were shot by the Ranvir goons.
Nov. 8 '98; incident was a retaliatory action against this killing of three innocent agricultural labourers whose only fault was that they believed their enemies.
Ranvir Sena is the most organised and brute reactionary armed force which has been made during revolutionary resistance struggle. It is different from the earlier private armies like Bhoomi Sena, Sunlight Sena, Lorik Sena, Kisan Sangh etc. Some features of the Sena can be observed thus:
i) Sena's grip on bureaucrats is much more than its predecessors. Not only a section of upper caste retired police officers and bureaucrats but also a good section of present bureaucrats and police officers are their sympathizers. Their caste men in various political parties are their patrons. BJP especially played an active role in organising and defending Ranvir Sena.
ii) They are better organised militarily and their gunmen are paid stipends.
iii) They begin their organisation secretly and even their second rank leadership and main hit-men don't live in the countryside generally. They prefer dens in the towns and came to village when any operation is planned.
iv) Their main form of attack and the means to create terror is massacre. No private army adopted massacre as its primary form of oppression.
v) It is politically more matured as it is trying to pose the whole revolutionary movement as the struggle between the agricultural labourers and owner peasants. It has organised an open front in the name of 'Rastravadi Kisan Mahasnagha'.
CPI(ML)[People's War] (which has been formed after the merger of erstwhile CPI(ML) [People's War] and erstwhile CPI(ML)[Party Unity]) has called upon the people to smash Ranvir Sena politically, militarily and economically. The Party has reaffirmed its conviction in the correctness of the twin tactics of selected enemies may include village level secretaries, presidents and active members of Ranvir Sena. It is necessary to expose the political leaders and parties who patronise the Sena and also bring them under attack when opportunity comes. The party has also taken measures to arm people who can defend themselves against possible Sena attacks. Party has called upon the people to expose police-Ranvir Sena nexus and attack this whenever they get chance. There is one argument which comes naturally after a massacre from the ranks and the people that this massacre should be answered by a similar massacre by the revolutionary forces. But this is a deviation. If the revolutionaries adopt this policy, they'll not be able to polarise and isolate those ordinary owner peasants who have gone over to other side in the name of caste. It is basically because of this correct tactics of handling other private armies and also Raijvir Sena, that the CPI(ML)[PW] has able to prevent this struggle from degenerating into caste struggle. This is perceively why the Ranvir Sena has not been able to corner the support of the majority of their own cast men. But again in dealing with such caste armies one must understand the caste-class complexity in Bihar society. An ordinary owner peasant of upper caste is in socially dominant position and he may be very much interested in maintaining the existing social order. So, in such a situation he may take active part in 'killing-spree' of Sena. The revolutionary forces must take the' steps carefully in such complex situation where caste and class are interpenetrating. The struggle against the Ranvir Sena or any other landlord's armies is not just for better wages or gair-mazurua land, nor it is a caste struggle. It is a struggle between the two opposing forces in the countryside - the landlords and feudal reactionaries on one hand and the toiling masses on the other. It is a struggle for political, social and economical authority in the rural areas, launched by the agricultural labourers and poor and middle peasants. Unless and until the feudal authority is completely smashed and people's authority is established, private armies, in one form or other, will continue to emerge.
As the armed resistance struggle is becoming stronger day by day, police repression is also intensifying. Police combing is being carried on with more intensity and bruteness. On Sept. 8 '98 almost 500 police encircled a guerilla squad at village Bara (Karpi, Jehandbad). The encirclement had a radius of 3 Km. After a long encounter the squad retreated safely. Similarly at Pipardanha (Pali) on Oct. 8 '98, the guerrillas successfully broke and came out of a similar encirclement. In a recent spurt of repression beginnings from Rampur incident and the annihilation of a Sub-inspector at Bhagwanganj (Massourhi, Patna), more than 50 sympathizers and activists of MKSP and PW were arrested. During raids the para-military forces are not sparing even the pedestrian and old persons. Mass programmes are banned in an undeclared manner. Meanwhile, in another daring action armed squads of PW blew the house of Kisan Sangh President Ram Dayal Yadav on August 20, '98 and annihilated him along with his three henchmen. In another land struggle at Pathra (Wazirganj, Gaya) two comrades Pankaj alias Arun (Commander) and Prem alias Arun (Squad member) became martyrs.
Braving police repression and the onslaught of Ranvir Sena, CPI(ML)[People's War] is, on the one hand, mobilising larger sections of peasantry on the question of land, agricultural development and against the imperialist exploitation in agriculture and trying to launch massive mass movements on these issues and, on the other hand, is strengthening the subjective forces, i.e., the party, the armed squads and various mass organisations to take on the state and the reactionary forces.
Monday, September 17, 2007
People's March January 1999