ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ranvir Sena Revisited

Feudal-Kulak Power and Lalu-Nitish Continuum

Commentators looking at Bihar through the prism of "caste" have analysed the ups and downs of caste equations. But the oppressed rural poor of Bihar have huge achievements to their credit in terms of their battle for dignity and rights, even in the face of fi erce feudal-kulak violence and state repression. It is this battle which has been the key motive force in pushing Bihar forward. A political analysis of the state, against the backdrop of the acquittal order of the Bathani Tola massacre convicts and the murder of Brahmeshwar Singh, the man who founded and led the Ranvir Sena for nearly two decades.

Two recent incidents have attracted renewed media, academic, and of course, political attention to the Ranvir Sena that haunted ­Bihar from the late 1990s until the early years of the 21st century. First, the shocking acquittal by the Patna High Court of 23 Ranvir Sena men convicted by a lower court for the barbaric Bathani Tola ­massacre of 11 July 1996, and second, the assassination of Brahmeshwar Singh, the man who foun­ded and led the Sena for nearly two ­decades. Singh, who had been a key accused in as many as 22 massacre cases had been out on bail for the last one year and had warned the ­Bihar government against appealing to the Supreme Court on the high court ­acquittal.

Following Singh’s assassination, his supporters went berserk in the state, ­indulging in indiscriminate acts of ­vandalism and renewed assaults on dalit hamlets and dalit student hostels. ­Taking a leaf out of the Modi school of raj dharm or “governance”, the Bihar government gave a freehand to the ram­paging sena. Meanwhile, cutting across the government-opposition divide, prominent ­political leaders of Bihar have been busy paying homage to Singh with one senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister of Bihar going as far as descri­bing Singh as a true Gandhian! The ­funeral and the shradh ceremony of the slain Ranvir Sena chief were held with what can ­virtually be called “state honours” with several ministers of the ­Nitish Kumar cabinet, senior BJP leaders and Members of Parliament (MPs) and ­Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from the BJP, Janata Dal United – JD(U), Rashtriya ­Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress in ­attendance.

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