There has been a spate of attempts to whip up communal tension and to inflict violence on Dalits in various parts of Bihar throughout October 2017: almost half the districts of the state experienced communal tension on the occasion of Dussehra-Muharram These incidents reflect the manner in which the feudal-communal forces of Bihar feel emboldened by the abduction of the 2015 mandate by the Nitish-BJP Government.
In Arwal, there were attempts to whip up a communal climate around the end of September and early October, when Dussehra and Moharram coincide. CPI(ML) leaders Comrade Rameshwar Prasad, Mahanand and Inquilabi Muslim Conference convener Anwar Hussain visited various areas in Arwal on 3 October, appealing to people to uphold Arwal’s legacy of communal harmony and unity and rebuff the poisonous attempts of Sanghi forces to vitiate this culture.
Frustrated by its failure to foment violence during the Tazia procession and on other occasions, Sanghi goons started closing shops and spreading rumours to vitiate the atmosphere. Many Muslim houses were vandalized and fruit shops were looted. The Sanghi cadres also attacked and vandalized CPI (ML) leader Sohail Akhtar’s house. A negligent administration responded only under pressure from the CPI (ML), holding a flag march and imposing Section 144 to maintain peace.
Meanwhile in Sikariya village in Bihta, feudal-communal forces attacked dalits on the day of Durga Puja. The incident in Sikariya started with a petty dispute about motorcycle parking at the Durga Puja site, upon which members of the dominant Bhumihar community beat up and injured Dhurkheli and Ritesh Kumar – both from the Mahadalit Ravidas community. When the dalits went to the Thana on 1 October to file a complaint, the Thana in-charge informed the attackers. The attackers then arrived at the Thana and filed a case of theft, chain-snatching and molestation against the dalits. Feudal powers from the neighbourng 10 villages held a meeting and resolved to ‘teach a lesson’ to the Mahadalits.
Hundreds marched in protest on 6 October at Bihta against the attack and false cases on Dalits, followed by a public meeting addressed by former MP Comrade Rameshwar Prasad, as well as Comrades Gopal Singh, Surendra Yadav,Vinod Yadav, Rakesh Manjhi and others.
Burning of Mahadalit Homes in Khagariya
On 18 October feudal dominant forces burnt down the houses of 70 Mahadalits from the Musahar community in Chhamsiya village (Morkahi Thana), Khagariya district. Heavy firing also ensued and Mahadalits were beaten up. Property worth lakhs has been reduced to ashes, including household goods and goats. Many people are reported missing.
The Special Task Force (STF) of the police in cahoots with criminal Munna Yadav is behind the burning of Mahadalit houses Khagariya. The criminal gangs in Khagariya have the protection of JD(U) MLA Poonam Yadav and her strongman husband Ranvir Yadav. The CPI (ML) has called for a Khagariya-Samastipur bandh on 23 October to protest against the burning of Mahadalit homes, as well the Samastipur firing that killed one person, and the kidnapping of a 16 year old girl in Tajpur. State-wide protests will also be organized on the same day.
The CPI (ML) enquiry team comprising Tarari MLA Sudama Prasad and AIARLA leader Gopal Ravidas reported that the site of the incident (of burning houses) is only 17 km from Khagariya but it took them a long time to reach there, with 3 rivers needing to be crossed and long distances covered on foot. Clearly, development is a long way from here, in spite of tall claims by the government.
The enquiry team report said that 82 houses were set ablaze and destroyed, out of which 79 belong to people from the Musahar community and 3 to poor Kumhar families. Properties worth about 80 lakhs, 13 goats, 1 cow and 1 buffalo have also been burnt to ashes. The attack was carried out by the Munna Yadav gang at 9 pm. This area has always been prone to power tussles by different gangs. The pretext for the attack was Munna Yadav’s with to ‘teach a lesson’ to the people of Chhamasiya for, according to him, supporting a rival gang led by Angad Singh.
On 17 October Munna Yadav arrived in Chhamasiya along with STF jawans, without informing ether the Thana or the local Chowkidar. The local people said that the STF carried out early morning raids in the village, looted ornaments, and threatened to come again. The STF arrested four villagers (Aman Sada, Santosh Sada, Suman Pandit, Devendra Choudhury) and 2 people from neighbouring village Amousi who had come to buy fish. They lodged false cases of possessing rifles and pistols against the villagers.
The CPI (ML) has made the following demands:
- 1. Withdrawal of all false cases from against the villagers
2. Rs 5 lakh compensation, Indira Awas and 5 decimals land to all victim families.
3. Permanent police camp for the protection of the people.
4. Arrest of all the criminals and action against the STF in-charge.
5. Road and bridge construction in the area.
6. Speedy trial in the case.