Bihar’s Struggle for Justice, Dignity, Democracy
Nitish Kumar was lionised by the corporate media as the man who was bringing Bihar to the 21st century. The bad old days of crime and caste massacres were past, we were told, and Nitish’s ads and hoardings announce that Bihar is witnessing “waves of revolutionary change.” But unfolding events are turning Nitish Kumar’s slogan of ‘development with justice’ on its head, and the CM’s gospel of ‘good governance’ is giving way to unfettered police raj.
A full year has passed since the Forbesganj firing on June 3rd 2011, which had exposed the communal hatred and brutality nurtured by the Bihar police against poor minorities of Bhajanpura village in Forbesganj who dared resist the encroachment of their traditional road by a BJP MLC. The judicial probe ordered as a face-saving measure by the Bihar Government has been a non-starter. No enquiry report has come out fixing responsibility for the police killings and atrocities.
While the killers in uniform at Forbesganj go unscathed, the police at Aurangabad have shown their loyalty to diktats from the rulers at Patna, launching an all-out assault on people protesting a political assassination, and singling out former CPI(ML) MLA Comrade Rajaram Singh for an especially vicious beating.
Contrary to Nitish Kumar’s claim of crime-free Bihar, there is a renewed spurt in major crimes and especially political killings. Three recent killings have caused tremendous public outrage – that of Surendra Yadav, Dalsinghsarai block secretary of the CPI(M) in Samastipur district, Bhaiyyaram Yadav, CPI(ML)’s Rohtas district secretary and Devendra Singh alias Chhotu Kushwaha, the popular mukhiya of Sonhathu panchayat of Haspura block in Aurangabad district – all of which seem to have been perpetrated at the behest of local JD(U)/BJP MLAs.
It is also no coincidence that Nitish’s Bihar stands witness to some of the most shocking and shameful instances of judicial injustice. The Bathani Tola verdict acquitting all the accused for a heinous massacre was perhaps inevitable in a Bihar where the Government does not oppose bail for the massacre mastermind, Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh; disbands the Amir Das Commission probing the political linkages of the Ranveer Sena; and dumps the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission.
In Nitish’s Bihar, the police’s refusal to act against the BJP MLA whom Rupam Pathak accused of rape forces her to take desperate measures. But Rupam Pathak gets a life sentence – while her complaint of rape is yet to be investigated!
In the Amausi massacre case, 10 musahars including the popular leader Bodhan Sada have been given a death sentence on the most doubtful of evidence. Nothing can be more telling of skewed justice in Nitish’s Bihar than the death sentence for Bodhan Sada, while Bramhmeswar Singh and his band of killers walk free.
The popular response to the Bihar Bandh called by the CPI(ML) on 10 May has clearly shown that the people of Bihar are fighting back. The CPI(ML)’s ongoing Nyay Andolan (Movement for Justice) is gaining momentum, demanding unconditional release of Comrade Rajaram Singh and other jailed agitationists; action against the DM and SP of Aurangabad; CBI enquiry into the Forbesganj firing and the killings of Surendra Yadav, Bhaiyyaram Yadav and Chhotu Kushwaha; justice for Rupam Pathak and the Amausi convicts including Bodhan Sada; cancellation of Brahmeshwar Singh’s bail and justice for the Bathani victims.
Real change in Bihar does not lie in the changing caste complexion of the rulers; nor in the changing political rhetoric of the rulers – whether Lalu Prasad’s ‘social justice’ or Nitish Kumar’s ‘good governance’. Real change does not lie in the gloss of globalisation and corporatisation added to the semi-feudal political economy of Bihar resulting in spectacular statistical growth on paper. The people of Bihar are showing that justice, dignity and democracy are not class-neutral words, and are certainly not monopolies of the rich and the powerful. And that real change lies in the tenacity and courage and determination with which people fight back for their justice, their dignity and their democracy.