PUCL Bulletin, August 2002

Bihar PUCL Report
Killing of Dalits at Bhadaura, PS Masaurhi, Patna

Following reports in the media, including TV, of the killing of some Dalits at Bhadaura allegedly by Naxals, the State PUCL formed a fact finding committee consisting of Prabhakar Sinha, National Vice President, Ram Chandra Lal Das, State President, Kishori Das, General Secretary, and Mithilesh Kumar, Secretary to inquire into the incident.

The Committee visited the place of occurrence on 18" May 2002 and met a large number of villagers including the members of the victims' family. Subsequently, it also spoke to the Officer-In-Charge, Masaurhi and the Dy. Superintendent of Police, SK Barnawal. The villagers who spoke to the PUCL team included Manohar Ravidas (son of the deceased Baleshwar Das), Baleshwar Das's mother, Ram Baran Ram, Sheo Pujan Ram, Suryadeo Prasad, Ram Pyare Singh, Jitendranath Pande, Phulwasia Devi, Raj Munna Devi, Sitapati Devi, Sita Kanwar Devi, and Deopari Devi.

Initially, the people were hesitant to talk candidly for they seemed to be still in fear. Manohar Ravidas, whose parents, Bhabhi (sister-in-law), and two nephews were gunned down occasionally got agitated, not unusual considering his trauma. He initially denied that he was aware of any reason for his family to be targeted except for the sole reason that they belonged to the Chamaar caste. But gradually the people including Manohar himself opened up and spoke with candour.

Manohar Ravi Das: I was sleeping in the middle room. In the southern room were my mother, Bhabhi, and two nephews while my father was in the northern room. My wife and daughter were with me. I heard the sound of firing and kept hiding The killers went to the southern room and fired, they also went to the northern room and shot my father dead. They left within a few minutes after gunning them down. All except my Bhabhi were shot in the head from a close range. My Bhabhi was shot in the chest. My grandmother was not at home. My brother had also gone out on a job and was not at home, otherwise they would also have been killed.

When asked what the motive behind the killing was, he got angry and said, 'Sunil (the killer) kills only the Ravidas (Chamaar). Why doesn't he kill the Yadavas? He has killed Ravidas at Mataurha and Datmai also.'
He further said, "They came by 'Gaari' (car/jeep, Station wagon, etc., are covered by this single word 'Gaari'), It had a red light. The M LA (Vidhaayak) has given him the vehicle (Vidhaayak hi naa dete hain). The police has arrested only innocent persons".

According to him and other villager the killers came at about 12 at midnight gunned down the victims and left immediately. They had identified themselves as the 'Party' (the name by which the Naxals are popularly known. However, in this area the word stands for the CPI (ML), People's War Group or PWG.
The reason for the killing: According to the villagers Sunil Yadav is a terror in the area. Earlier, he belonged to the PWG owing allegiance to one Jainandan Yadav in the Party. Jainandan Yadav had criminal antecedents. He allegedly indulged in criminal activities even while remaining in the PWG, which was opposed by another leader Ram Iqbal Mochi alias Madeerji. Subsequently, Jainandan Yadav was expelled from the party and he became a terror in the locality due to his criminal activities.

Sunil belonged to his gang. Later, Jainandan Yadav was killed in a police encounter. Following his death, Sunil became the gang leader and a terror in the area. Due to his terror, he could extort any amount from the people in the area. His modus operandi was to stick a notice addressed to a person ordering him to pay a certain amount or face consequences. The people generally paid up or were killed. He also terrorised people by imposing a ban on their land, that is, by ordination that no labourer would work in their fields. Out of terror no labourer would work on such persons' fields causing them unbearable financial loss.

According to the villagers of Bhadaura, Sunil had imposed a ban on the land of one Sheo Yadav of his own village named Bairichak. He had also demanded from him a sum of rupees one lakh. Sheo Yadav is not a rich farmer, but had some conflict with Sunil. The villagers said that the labourer from Bhadaura had stopped working in Sheo Yadav's field, though a few worked in the field of Hitwaran Yadav of the same village. However, some people said that there was a 'ban' on his land also though it was not known to all. So, some labourers went to work in his field (i.e., Hitwaran Yadav's field).

The villagers spoke bitterly about the role of the politicians and administration. The leaders help them, i.e., the criminals. The administration gives them protection (Netaa un logon ko madad karte hain. Prashaashan unko sanrakshan detaa hai').

The Dy. SP S.K. Barnawal also confirmed the background of Sunil Yadav as stated above.

In fact, he gave a detailed account of the background of Jainandan Yadav and Sunil and of the villagers, which is not being included here, as it has no bearing on the matter under inquiry. Two things stated by him are significant. First, that Baleshwar Ravidas did defy Sunil's ban and worked in the field of Sheo Yadav and second, that it is a fact that Sunil had been deliberately targetting the members of the Chamaar caste The reason for his special hostility is to be found in the clash between Ram Iqbal Ram of the PWG and the Jainandan Yadav gang of which Sunil has been a member. He also mentioned that Sunil had victimised Chamaars, which included some people related to Madeerji (Ram Iqbal Ram)

He admitted that in spite of their efforts, they had not been able to arrest Sunil though attachment of his property had been done.

Finding:

  1. The Dalit family at Bhadaura was victimised by Sunil Yadav who had left the PWG when Jainandan Yadav was expelled from the Party.
  2. The motive behind the crime was to punish this family for defying his 'ban' on working on the land of Sheo Yadav of his village Bairichak
  3. It is strange but true that this criminal specially targets members of the Chamaar community.
  4. This heinous crime committed against the poor landless labourers in which the victims included innocent children and a woman is revealing of the inhumanity and cruelty of the criminal.
  5. The fact that this criminal has been operating with impunity can be attributed either to police inaction due to political support enjoyed by him or sheer incompetence of the Police

Observation: It is both strange and ironical that though the people unanimously declare that criminals enjoy the protection of the political leaders and the administration, voting in elections does not reflect this popular anger. It is common experience that the popular anger is expressed through 'Bandh' or strike, but is seldom directed against the party in power.

At the time of elections other considerations dominate and the role of the representative or party in power is not taken into account collectively. As a result, the people's representatives have no fear of the popular anger roused on account of protecting criminals or indulging in criminal acts.

-- Prabhakar Sinha, National Vice President; Ram Chandra Lal Das, President, Bihar PUCL; Kishori Das, General Secretary, Bihar PUCL; Mithilesh Kumar, Secretary, Bihar PUCL


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