PUCL Bulletin, August 2002
Bihar PUCL Report
It also examined the F.I.R. by Jawari Lal, one of the survivors (who hails from the village Bhingana, P.S. Looni, District Jodhpur) in the case No. 56/2002. Representation by the C.P.I. (ML) to the District Magistrate along with the photocopy of the threatening letter allegedly written by the Ranveer Sena was also examined.
Presence of Rajasthani workers: Since labourers from Bihar itself have been migrating to different parts of the country in a large number, it was something of a riddle to hear of Rajasthani labourers working here. On enquiry, it was found that they were not manual labourers but tractor drivers, who had come here with tractors to work on the site of the canal which was being dredged and by the side of which a road was being constructed. According to the villagers, the tractor drivers were not only extremely hard working, but were extremely skilled. It is for this reason that they had been hired and brought from Rajasthan. Such workers were also engaged by other contractors and were working at other sites of the Some Canal also. They appeared to enjoy goodwill and affection of the villagers.The villagers were in grief due to the tragedy
The Incident: The tractor drivers, local labourers and many villagers used to sleep fearlessly in the open near the Panchaayat Bhavan, which is situated a little far from the village. The tractor drivers along with their other Rajasthani staff (in all numbering 19, i.e., 14 tractor drivers and 5 others) used to sleep behind Panchaayat Bhavan in the field. Local labourers numbering about 40 used to sleep in the field in front of the Panchaayat Bhavan, and the villagers slept on 'chabutara' (platform) in front of the Panchaayat Bhavan. On the fateful night also they were sleeping in the same manner. At about 12 at night, the killers descended on the tractor drivers and started shooting them. Four of them reportedly died immediately while two were badly injured. They ran towards the Panchaayat Bhavan to save their lives, but died as no medical aid was available. The killers had singled the Rajasthanis out to kill. They did not attack either the villagers sleeping on the terrace or the local labourers sleeping in the field in front of the Panchaayat Bhavan.
Nand Kishore Yadav, the Mukhiyaa, claimed to have informed the police which could arrive only in the morning. The following six Rajasthani workers' were killed: 1. Ramrup Ram, 2. Durga Ram, 3. Hari Ram, 4. Sohan Ram, 5. Meena Ram, 6. Babulal Ram.
The culprits according
to the F.I.R in case No 56,2002 of P.S Chauri: Jawari Lal, one the
survivors has made a statement before the police. After describing the
killing of his friends and how he hid himself under a tractor to escape
death, he names some members of the gang which committed the heinous crime.
However, he clearly states that he was told by some villager that the
persons he named were part of the armed gang He names 16 persons and also
states that they were members of the Ranveer Sena. The team was informed
by the villagers that the activities of Ranveer Sena are guided by Awadh
Bihar Pande of Amrhua, P.S Chauri. Before this incident, no threat was
given on the work-site nor was any hindrance created. The victims had
no knowledge if any threat was given to their contractor. Jawari Lal's
FIR says that "we have come to know that a battle for supremacy between
'Maale' (i.e., C.P I (ML)) and the Ranveer Sena is going on. It is my
claim that this incident was effected by the named and other unknown extremists
to create terror under a conspiracy hatched by the Area Commander Awadh
Bihari Pande and other active members of the Ranveer Sena."
The culprits according to the C.P.I. (ML): The organisation categorically states that the killing is the handy work of the Ranveer Sena. They claim that they had been aware of the activities of the Sena and had come to know that they were holding meetings to indulge in such crime if they were not paid by the contractors (i.e., if what is popularly called Rangdaari/levy, etc., which means money paid to organised armed groups for being permitted to carry on work in their area of influence).
They showed us the photocopy of a letter allegedly written by the Ranveer Sena to the tractor drivers ordering them lo leave with their tractors as soon as possible or to face consequences. The letter was handed over to the District Magistrate of Bhojpur for appropriate action on 8th April, 2002. Again, the C.P.I. (ML) wrote to the S.P. on 25.04.2002 regarding the presence of the leaders of the Ranveer Sena in the villages of Sahar P.S. The letter specifically mentions Ekwari, Arnuhan, Chauri, and Dulamchak. It is alleged that armed groups have been moving from one village to another, and also that the chief of the Ranveer Sena, Barhineshwar Singh, had reportedly (Soochanaa milee hai) participated in the meeting at Ekwari
The Dainik Jagaran of 9th May, 2002 has reported that the District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar admitted that a delegation of the C.P.I (ML) had given him the letter of the Ranveer Sena issuing a threat to the tractor drivers, but it contained no name of any place. However, he claimed to have written the S.P. to act on it
On enquiry from the
PUCL team, Deepak Kumar, the correspondent concerned of the Dainik Jagaran
said that the D.M. had not contradicted the news item.
Finding: It is not easy in this case to fix responsibility for the crime. As there is none claiming to identify the culprits. The F.I.R. by Jawari Lal admittedly gives the names of several persons supplied to him by a villager, who himself has not been identified. He further repeats that they have told him that the crime has been committed by the Ranveer Sena under a conspiracy hatched by Awadh Bihari Pande and other active members of the Ranveer Sena. He is an outsider and has no personal knowledge. He relies on and repeats what he claims to have been told by some unidentified persons. Thus, the F.I.R. cannot be relied upon for identifying the culprits.
The villagers who
were at the place of occurrence also did not identify the culprits though
suspected that they were men of the Ranveer Sena because they fled in
the direction in which the villages supporting them are situated. Besides,
it was 12 O' clock at night and they were too scared to do anything but
remain lying on ground to save themselves. The terror is so great that
even now none goes near the Panchaayat Bhavan or ventures out after sunset.
Additionally, the killing took place behind the Panchaayat Bhavan, while
the villagers were sleeping on the terrace in front of the Panchaayat
Bhavan from where they could not see the culprits. In view of above mentioned
facts and circumstances, fixing of responsibility has to be done on the
basis of inference which can be drawn from the facts and circumstances
of the case.
No such disgruntled
person was mentioned in the context of the present killing. Another thing
that makes this hypothesis very far fetched and remote is the fact that
it would be unnatural for the contractor who has suffered to allow the
police to follow the wrong trail (in this case the Ranveer Sena) and let
the real culprits go Scot free. What would be most natural for them to
go the whole hog after the contractor who dealt him the severe blow? It
is pertinent to note that all the Rajasthanis have left, and work on all
sites there has stopped, hurting all the contractors of the area engaged
in the work on the canal with Rajasthani tractors. Since none of the contractors
has accused any contractor of committing the crime, the possibility of
the crime being the handiwork of a disgruntled or rival contractor has
to be ruled out.
No organisation would
imperil its sympathisers/workers, etc. But at the same time, it is significant
that it has not owned responsibility. Would any organisation take the
blame for shedding the blood of innocent persons, specially if they are
from some other state (and in no way party to local political rivalry)
without any rhyme or reason? It would not be natural for any organisation
to accept this odium if it is innocent.
In Bihar, it is the
opposite which has been ensured. Every habitual law breaker knows that
he would remain unpunished. What is most alarming is that the lawbreakers
have come to rule the roost. The police are not allowed to do their job
even where they want to do it. In this scenario, it is not enough to blame
only the police if lawlessness in the state has to be stopped. The people
and the political parties interested in saving the state have to work
to remove the root cause of lawlessness in the state.