This Battle Must be Won -- VINOD MISHRA

(Excerpts from a write-up in Liberation January 1998)

The history of Bihar, for more than two decades, is replete with massacres. Massacres of rural poor of dalit castes by various landlord armies. In their desperate bid to suppress the ever growing rural poor uprising and to hold onto their caste-class privileges, the new classes of landlords and kulaks have frequently took recourse to this terror tactics as a means to terrorise the whole mass of people. Yet the massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad on the night of 1 December is a case apart and it rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence.

In all 61 persons — two thirds of whom were children, women and old persons — were butchered to death in a cold-blooded operation at the dead of night. All the victims belonged to the class of agrarian labourers and were dalits in the social hierarchy. In their struggle for socio-economic emancipation they had taken up the revolutionary banner of the CPI(ML).

The killers were men of the Ranvir Sena — an upper caste landlord army which enjoys the political backing of the BJP as well as support from a section of the RJD.

This time the target chosen was a village in Jehanabad that lies close to the districts of Bhojpur, Patna and Aurangabad. The essential purpose was to send the message across the whole of central Bihar. The time chosen was significant as the political crisis at the centre had matured and a caretaker government was in office. Thus, by effecting an upper caste mobilisation of both Bhumihars and Rajputs, it also symbolised the beginning of the political offensive by arch-reactionary forces. ...

..The record was indeed created not only in terms of numbers but also in the measure of brutality and cowardice. Side by side, another record was created by the media, particularly in Bihar, which excelled in hypocrisy. Since day one, Sangh Parivar propaganda machinery swung into action and the media began playing to its tune. A prominent journalist from Patna wrote in a national daily that it was the same old story of clash between Ranvir Sena and Naxalites, the only difference being that this time Naxalites were unarmed. How cleverly the cold-blooded massacre of women and children was rationalised as a routine kind of confrontation! The same journalist in subsequent write-ups tried to rationalise Ranvir Sena as an expression of peasant’s anguish against indiscriminate Naxalite violence. This typical attitude was common to the entire upper caste journalist fraternity barring a few exceptions. The long list of upper caste villages supposedly under the threat of Naxalite revenge were boldly displayed in newspapers and cock-and-bull stories of PWG squads entering into Jehanabad were dished out. The news analysis that began with Laxmanpur-Bathe invariably ended up with concern over general deterioration of law and order and demands for action against Naxalite extremists who dare to run parallel governments and even attack the police. The news of protests were underplayed whereas the fast by BJP leaders and Vajpayee’s visit was overplayed. All this was a well-orchestrated move to divert public attention from Ranvir Sena, from its organic links with the BJP and pressurise the state administration to divert its operations against the victims themselves.

...Still the machinations of the whole range of mercenaries is not the last word in the rural poor’s march to liberty. The protest is growing fast and assuming larger dimensions.

...The massacre has generated immense class hatred among rural poor, strengthened their determination to close their ranks, and led to the growing realisation of going over to offensive actions as the best way of defence.

...With the advent of Ranvir Sena, the class war is no longer confined to this or that region of Central Bihar any more. It is engulfing the entire central Bihar. This has also created conditions for forging a broader class unity, a unity cemented by blood. The class war is also making irrelevant the false god of social justice, Laloo Yadav, who in his earlier incarnation had encouraged the growth of Ranvir Sena as a Machiavellian plot to wipe out our Party. In fact, it has turned into a Frankenstein for him and is threatening his own social base in the changed political environment of BJP’s growing political offensive.

...The challenge of Ranvir Sena, the perpetrators of the ‘national shame’, has to be met. In the concrete context of Bihar, the interests of the revolutionary peasant movement as well as the national responsibility of halting the onslaught of saffron army has merged into one and the same task — wiping out Ranvir Sena.

The rural proletariat has been shedding blood for its socio-economic emancipation and political liberty. It is our duty to organise people to avenge the death of their class brethren and for that we shall have to undertake the widest exposure campaign particularly in view of media hostility; do away with all sectarian attitudes and unite all positive social sections and political forces and raise our preparations to a higher level to deal a crushing blow to this army of butchers, of cowards. This battle can surely be won and must be won. This is the call of human progress, democracy and true nationalism. This is the call of the modern times.

Liberation Archive