16 years after the Bathani Tola massacre, the struggle for justice for Bathani Tola, far from being forgotten, has reemerged with fresh relevance and urgency in a new phase. Bathani Tola has once again emerged as a rallying cry against injustice, not only in Bihar, but all over the country. In the dalit movement too, Bathani Tola is, this time around, triggering a questioning about the role and silence of the ‘official’ dalit and social justice parties, and a renewed alertness about the politics involved in feudal massacres.
In this feature, you can read reports of the CPI(ML)’s Nyay Rally at Ara on the anniversary of the Bathani massacre, the Convention in Delhi organized by the Citizens for Justice for Bathani Tola, and an article revisiting the phenomenon of the Ranveer Sena.
A massive ‘Nyay Rally’ was held at Ramna Maidan, Ara (Bihar) on 11 July 2012, the anniversary of Bathani Tola massacre. This was attended by thousands of people from all over Bihar. The rally was a culmination of month-long Nyay Yatra organised throughout the state to demand justice for Bathani Tola.
Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of CPI(ML) said, while addressing the rally that when 21 people were brutally massacred sixteen years ago in Bathani Tola to silence the rising voices of asserting poor and toiling people of Bihar, the determination to fight for the democracy and justice became stronger and more resolute.
He said that while the Laloo regime was responsible for the massacre, now it is Nitish Govt. which has perpetrated a judicial massacre with those victims. The government which attained power with promises for dalits, minorities, backwards, first bailed out Ranvir Sena Chief who was responsible for dozens of mass massacres and then maneuvered the acquittal of all the accused of Bathani Tola massacre.
Comrade Dipankar further added that people of Bihar are aware of Laloo Yadav’s nexus with the feudal forces at the when a series of massacres were organised, and today people are witness to the Nitish regime’s manoeuvrings with the same forces. Ruling party MLAs are involved in Bhayyaram Yadav and Chhotu Kushwaha’s murders. When people were protesting Chhotu Kushwaha’s killing on 2 May, police brutally targeted them, did not spare women and children. The Superintendent of Police beat up popular CPI(ML) leader and former MLA Rajaram Singh with his own hands, but the same government remained silent when arson and vandalism was going on in Patna on 2 June at the funeral procession of Ranvir Sena chief.
He said it will never be possible to make another Gujarat in Bihar, thanks to the resolute determination and spirit of the people of Bihar. Be it the freedom struggle or the anti-feudal peasant struggle, Bhojpur was the land of heroes like Vir Kunwar Singh, Jagdish Mahto and Ram Naresh Ram. And it was that fighting spirit that would prevail.
The district secretary of AIALA, Com. Siddhanath Ram, presided over the rally, which was conducted by AIALA General Secretary Dhirendra Jha. A message from Comrade Rajaram Singh, incarcerated in Aurangabad jail, was read out. RJD supporter Laldev Yadav, also incarcerated with Comrade Rajaram during the agitation against Chhotu Kushwaha’s murder, sent a message to the rally, saying that he had been arrested when he attended the mass meeting under CPI(ML)’s banner when his own party’s supporters had deserted the agitation. He said that the fighting spirit of the jailed comrades was very high, and aspired for the warmth and support of the rallyists at Ara.
The rally was addressed by Comrade Sudama Prasad, Chhotu Mukhiya’s father-in-law Umesh Kushwaha, Bhaiyyaram Yadav’s wife Usha Yadav, Bathani massacre survivor Nayeemuddin Ansari, Nayyar Fatmi who spoke of the Forbesganj firing, and Kanchan Bala who is associated with the 1974 movement and citizens’ struggles, Saroj Choubey of AIPWA, CPI(ML) CCMs Rameshwar Prasad and KD Yadav.
CPI(ML) PBMs Swadesh Bhattacharya, Ramjatan Sharma, Amar, Ramji Rai, CCMs Brij Bihari Pandey, Kavita Krishnan, Rajaram, and Bihar State Secretary Kunal were also present at the rally.