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24. November 2002

by Harsh Thakor

On November 4th is the10th anniversary of 8 landless peasant activists being sentenced to death. These landless peasants were avenging the atrocities of the upper caste Rajput Landlords They killed 44 members of Rajput Families in Dalechauk Baghera. This has historical significance as it depicts the hypocritical State policies which sides with the powerful and the landed. Bihar has a strong history of a revolutionary peasant movement. The Story of Bihar is an epic in the struggle of the toiling peasantry against the dark forces of oppression. The government has done everything to suppress the historic struggle of the peasantry by colluding with the big upper-caste landlords. In Bihar casteism is predominant and land divisions took place on caste lines. The upper caste Brahmins and Rajput landlords owned up to 500 acres of land reminding people of India in the 15th Century! The peasants live under the tyranny of big landlords who own over 100 to 500acres of land in contrast to the majority who are either landless or barely own an acre of land. Through landlord Senas (Armies of Landlords) like the Ranbir Sena the landlords grab the land of the poor and suppress the struggles of the poor peasantry. The Ruling government in Bihar never has got the criminal landlords arrested but has arrested several innocent peasants struggling against landlord oppression. Thousands of activists of the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad are languishing in jails. Landlords gangs in Bihar include the Lorrik Sena of the Rajputs, the Bramarshi Sena of the Bhumihars and the Ranbir Sena. Bihar still has about 100 Zamindars, who own more than 500 acres of land and 6,000 landlords who own more than 100 acres each. The most oppressed communities in Bihar which comprise the majority of the landless peasantry, are the Dalits. They are virtually landless and 90%of victims of the tyranny of landlord`s armies are the Dalit Community. Historically they have been known as the Harijans or untouchables.
As a result of the uneven distribution of land peasants began to organise themselves through democratic peasant organisations like the Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti,(Led by the C.P.I.M.L.Party Unity )the Bihar Pradesh Kisan Sabha and the Krantikari Kisan committee.(led by the Maoist Communist Centre)in the early 1980`s.These organisations led heroic struggles against landlordism. As a result the landlord forces were infuriated and carried out massacres of innocent peasants at BelchiEtc. In Arwal there was a police firing carried out in 1986 defending the interests of a landlord Several peasants were killed in the Firing on April 19th.That day at Gandhi Pustkalya under the orders of D.S.P. R.Kaswan the police fired rounds on an unarmed meeting of peasants, killing 23 people. Earlier in 1984 M.K.S.S secretary Krishna Singh was killed by landlord Sena (landlord Army)elements. The government did not convict his assassins. The M.K.S.S had built up a huge peasant movement in Jehanabad district as well as Palamau. The struggle of the M.K.S.S began on the question of landless peasants not being paid minimum wages. Agricultural workers were paid a paltry one seer kacchha rice per day ,while the legal payment was 4 kg. of rice per day. The M.K.S.S led heroic struggles on this issue in Jehanabad. It also led land srtuggles, particularly against families who had Math Lands.(temple lands)Several acres were re-distributed .
In 1988,the State banned democratic organisations like the Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti. Nd the Maoist Communist Centre. Under the black law, the Terrorist and Disturbed Areas act(Commonly known as the T.A.D.A.)The Bihar Government also arrested Amarjeet Sohi, a revolutionary activist from Punjab, who had earlier been based in Canada. Sohi was a democratic activist in Punjab participating in activities of the Inquilabi Kendra. (Revolutionary centre of Punjab-an organisation formed to fight the state and Khalistani terror during the fundamentalist Khalistani movement)Sohi had come to Bihar to attend the Inaugural meeting of the Lok Sangram Morcha in Rohtas. Amarjeet Sohi was arrested on the false charges that he was a Khalistani terrorist. In June 1987 the Dalechauk Baghera massacre took place, avenging the killings of the Lorrik Sena of the Rajputs. Samiti, the Maoist Communist Centre etc in the pretext of fighting terrorism. Arvind Kumar, the M.K.S.S. secretary was arrested. Operation Rakshak and Agnidoot were carried out against democratic Forces. Democratic Forces formed a Lok Sangram Morcha, a joint front of several peasant and Youth organisations. The Morcha organised 2 major conventions. The first one was in protest against Operation Agnidoot. Here the Police assaulted and arrested activists of the Maoist Communist Centre ,the Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti and the Jan Suraksha Samiti. Organisations here were struggling against the oppression of the Sunlight Sena. The Sunlight Sena had killed 3 activists of the Maoist Communist Centre as well as arrested 3 activists of the Jan Mukti Parishad.(People`s liberation Front)The second convention was held in Jehanabad demanding the just demands of the landless and poor peasants. Here alternative irrigation canals were demanded for the poor peasantry as well as all seized lands by landlords should be retuned to the peasants. Repealing of Black Laws was also demanded. The state eventually used the armed forces to suppress the peasant movement. Since the early 90`s several democratic revolutionary forces have emerged protesting against injustice in Bihar. The Police has also come down heavily on democratic youth organisations like the Bharat Naujavan Sabha which led several democratic struggles against illegal arrest of activists, inhuman jail conditions., Malpractices of School and college principals, corruption of doctors Etc.In 1992 Landlord gangs assassinated Pankaj ,a popular youth leader from Daltangonj district. Later Chanchal. of the Bharat Naujavan Sabha was killed by goons. This comrade valiantly supported peasant struggles as well as youth agitations. The police also suppressed public meetings against the killers of Pankaj. Similarly various martyred comrades memorial were disrupted.
The M.K.S.S was re-organised as the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad but again the state started an onslaught against it. Earlier in 1993,in under the resurrected form of Mazdoor Kisan Mukti Manch, the peasant organisation captured 7,000 acres of illegally seized land from the landlords on the Palamau-Garwah Region. Particularly in Daltangonj and Jehanabad the State suppressed their activists and prevented them from holding public meetings. Under Section 144 public meetings were banned. The Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti led great battles of the peasantry. In Shaheed Kunal Nagar the M.K.S.S. thwarted the notorious landlord Sunlight Sena which had carried out a long reign of repression in that area. On 7th November 1990 the Landlord Army killed a peasant Avdesh Sigh and his 3 sons. The Sunlight Sena forced 200 families of Dalits(Oppressed community commonly referred to in India as the Harijans or untouchables)The M.K.S.S activists historically created a new village for the displaced peasants naming it after a famous peasant martyr Kunal. In Palamau and Garwah the revolutionary peasant organisation captured 300 acres from the landlord Sudama Singh. Flags were first planted outside his village and then slogans were raised. Similarly 1000 acres of land was captured in another village. A prominent struggle was led over the landlord Budhinarayan Sah.(One of Bihar`s most notorious landlords who used to tie rebellious peasants to the huge anthills of red ants) Who owned 1,700 acres of Land. On 25th May 1993 the people burned down his palatial house and planted red Flags on his lands. Similar Struggles for land were led in Buxar, Jehanabad, Gaya, Patna, Khagaria, Begusurai, Rohtas, Bhabua and Gaya districts 1996 the state raided the office of the Bharat Naujavan Sabha in Gaya, Khagaria and Jehanabad .All the organisations literature and documents was seized. Earlier that year the police also disrupted the campaign of a revolutionary student organisation in a Palamau. The peasant organisation also led anti-famine struggles Starvation deaths were taking place in many regions of Bihar Through pamphlets and street plays people were educated that drought and famine were the result of the socio-economic anti-people policies of the State. Food Relief was organised and peasants were organised to seize the stocks of the landlords and the hoareers. Two thousand Mahua trees were seized, and thousands of grains of rice and wheat were re-distributed to the people. Significant Struggles were also led foe democratic people`s authority. In Pariyari village the landlord, cheat and userer Jay Narayan Singh of Pariyari village in Jehanabad district surrendered to a people`s court led by the M.K.S.S. He was forced to vacate his land. In Panch ghara village of Palamau district 400 women gathered in a Jan Panchayat to try the notorious criminal Tetar Baiga who had raped several women. Bidi Patta wage struggles were also led by the peasant organisation. In the earlier days the tribals and others plucking Bidi Patta were getting 3to 4 Rupees for plucking 50 leaves. However the struggles of the peasant organisations enabled the tribals to earn 10 to 15Rupees.Lastly the peasant organisations helped the poor peasantry in having more democratic irrigation facilities The peasant organisation helped dig new irrigation canals.
The Bihar Government launched a new reign of terror. In Jehanabad in April 1996,the State Police Forces lathi-charged a public meeting commemorating the Arwal massacre. In 1997,in Jalpura Are the police prevented the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad from functioning. On 12th March 1997 Rustam Yadav along within 3 other members of the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad was arrested at Tali village of Jehanabad district. Here a huge struggle was waged against the tyranny of the notorious Langar Singh who was earlier responsible for a massacre in Haibaspur. He had seized 700 bighas of land by the river side. The Ranbir Sena sent 100 armed goons to suppress the peasants. When the peasants protested the police showed whose side they were by taking no action against the Ranbir Sena. Police staged camps in Jalpura, Akdrpur, Gopalpur, Pyarechak Etc. What was significant was in that period in Palamau and Garwah districts 3,000 acres of land was distributed. Under the leadership of revolutionary movements the landless labourers occupied 12,000 Acres of land.
In the mid -90`s the All India People`s Resistance Forum was formed as a revolutionary forum against Imperialism. This organisation led joint anti-repression struggles. In 1998 ,a major massacre took place in Laxmanpur Bathe. Here the Ranbir Sena massacred the dalit peasants. A huge state-wide protest was led by democratic organisations all over the State form Bhagalpur to the Jharkand Areas. The police have yet not arrested the Ranbir Sena Criminals. Early that year the police even connived in the murder of democratic Student Leader Anil Ojha, who was protesting against the manipulation of the mafia in education. nil had led a movement against the corrupt principal Waaris Haadi. In 1999 the A.I.P.R.F led a state -wide protest against repression nationwide all over Bihar from Ranchi ,Daltangonj Bhagalpuur, Jehanabad to Aurangabad.
The State claims it is curbing extremist. This is false as although they may be killing armed Fighting armed squads civil Liberties reports testify that innocent peasant activists have been killed in cold blood in what the police claims as an encounter. The police tie members of Squads and even democratic peasant organisation activists. Recent P.U.C.L Reports testify that the Police have killed innocent peasant activists in cold blood in the false pretext of having killed members of armed squads in encounters. and kill them which is a violation of the law. Today democratic activity of revolutionary forces is virtually banned in Bihar. In the last 8 years over 150 activists of democratic organizations have been killed in staged encounters.
We need to build a movement in solidarity with the oppressed sections in Bihar. We must demand the release of all political prisoners languishing in jails in Bihar under False charges. In a similar way the State suppresses the struggles of workers in factories. On this day we must remember those who were falsely sentenced and pledge to fight against this state which is partisan with the oppressive landlords. The Dalechauk comrades trial is a chapter which will remain forever in the history of our oppressive state. Let us oppose the unjust Indian State with all our might! The heroic struggle of the Bihar peasantry and the democratic organisations protesting against the State and Landlord Terror is an inspiration for us all. The peasantry of Bihar has written an epic in the last 2 decades against the barbaric landlord oppression. In some villages they have lit red flames! Long live the Bihar People`s movement against landlordism and state terrorism!