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The Badlands Of Bihar

Ranvir sena An arms race has intensified among various Naxalite organisations in the Jehanabad district of central Bihar. The backdrop is provided by the political uncertainty in the state and the inept handling of law and order by the new chief minister, Rabri Devi.

Jehanabad, a stronghold of the CPI (ML)-Party Unity, has been sitting on a powder keg for years. And the advent of the Ranvir Sena, the banned army of forward-caste landlords, from Bhojpur district acted as the spark. There are also the hard-core Maoist Communist Centre and the CPI(ML)-Liberation.

The PU, MCC, Liberation and the Ranvir Sena, are always on the lookout for an opportunity to settle scores with one another and prove their organisational might. The Party Unity is headed by Dev Kumar Singh alias Arvind Kumar alias Vikas, who hails from Sukulchak village under Jehanabad Town police station. Initially, its agrarian struggle was peaceful and had started off under the banner of Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti.

With the Liberation group choosing the parliamentary path, it was the PU which spearheaded the militant grassroots movement in the region. Ultimately, the clash of interests took a violent form.

However, till the end of 1982, the gun was nowhere in the scene. “But,” says Rajan, a PU activist, “we realised that without arms, we could do nothing as the landlords, being rich had enough sophisticated firepower.” Hence, the armed squads of the Party Unity gave a fitting reply to the landlords. The rule of the gun had, in the real sense, begun in Jehanabad. And along with it, the turf war.

Till 1986, the Naxalite factions were operating hand in hand to crush the Kurmi-dominated Bhoomi Sena and Lorik Sena led by Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav. Later, they fell out with one another.

Today, the PU, the MCC and Liberation do not see eye to eye. While the PU accuses the Liberation of killing 65 of its comrades, the latter charges that the PU has killed 80 of its activists and the MCC another 75.

On September 3, the MCC reportedly gunned down eight PU supporters at Kharasi village in the Karpi PS area of Jehanabad. Earlier, the PU’s clashes with the MCC in Palamu claimed 12 lives.

According to Rajvinder Singh Bhatti, the district superintendent of police, almost the entire rural belt of Patna district has also been taken over by the PU. “In a systematic manner, the PU has swept the CPI(ML)-Liberation to rule the roost,” said Bhatti.

He added that the PU had expanded to Bhabhua, Aurangabad, Buxar and Gaya districts, thereby cutting into the bases of other Naxalite outfits like the MCC. The PU is giving the MCC a tough fight in Garhwa, Palamu and Chatra districts of South Bihar, too.

On the other hand, there were the private armies of the landlords to contend with. The Swavarna Liberation Front, an army of the Bhumihars, was floated by a criminal, Bindu Singh. Then there was Diamond Sena, led by Ramadhar Singh alias Diamond. The Ranvir Sena is a newcomer. Though it has not been able to attain much success in the region, it has infiltrated Jehanabad as the landlords there are aggrieved by the economic blockade threatened by the PU. The latter, said the SP, is “thriving on pure terror”.

Having crossed a couple of nameless rivulets in the Karpi block of Jehanabad, we reached Cerva village. From there it was a kilometre’s trek to the hutment’s housing the PU’s local headquarters.

Prabhu, who was introduced as a ‘commander’, “Aap hi bataiye, police aur Ranvir Sena mein koi farak hai kya (Tell me, is there any difference between the police and the Ranvir Sena)? They both do their best to suppress the poor and the landless.”

His comrade Rajan philosophised, “Zulm to pratirodh ki janani hai (Repression is the mother of resistance).” He bragged that except for fighter planes and tanks, “baaki sab hamare paas hai (we have everything else).” Prabhu regretted that the crack squad, armed with the latest automatic weapons, was not around.

According to the PU, if the Ranvir Sena is purely criminal, then the Liberation led by Vinod Mishra is “opportunist and power hungry”. As for the MCC, the PU cadres believe it has been exploiting poor people and has got down to bargaining for money, specially during elections.

“We have lost more than 200 persons including children and women in different carnages, but we will prove that we are the real organisation that fights for the poor,” said an activist.

The PU cadres said that procuring sophisticated arms is difficult, but not impossible. They brandished some of the .303 police rifles along with those snatched from the landlords. The rest were procured from “sources” in various parts of the state and the country.

They also admitted that besides the MCC, they too have beneficiaries of the Purulia arms drop. The local villagers had managed to sneak away with a large quantity of weapons that had been airdropped. “Our representatives got in touch with them and we managed to arm our crack ‘red squad’ with the latest weapons like AK-47s and 9-mm Parabellum automatic pistols.”

Bhatti also said that the PU has “solid international contacts”. He, however, dismissed suggestions that it was procuring arms from other extremist organisations in the country.

Ranvir Sena But cadres in Jehanabad boasted, "Assam se le kar Andhra Pradesh tak aur idhar Punjab se le kar Uttar Pradesh ke Terai mein, sabhi jagah hum log ke pratinidhi hain. Jo cheez jahan se lana hai, us ke liye hamara apna harkara hai (From Assam to Andhra Pradesh and from Punjab to the Terai in UP, we have representatives everywhere. Whatever we need, our couriers bring it for us).”

On July 4, the PU tried to blow up a bridge near Julahachak village under Sigori police station of Jehanabad using dynamite. Very soon, said sources, it, would have in its possession the most lethal cemtex and RDX. The MCC’s fire-power is comparable. In 1995, it attacked the Salempur police picket in Palamu using rocket launchers for the first time.

The arms stockpile has been increasing with some terrorists elsewhere in the country giving up and choosing to sell their arms to the Naxalites. “They have sold armaments to us, to the MCC and to Liberation as well,” said an activist.

Kind courtesy: Sunday magazine

'They are doing it in the name of social justice but it is nothing but an act of revenge'

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