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The Killing of Bihar’s Ranvir Sena Chief ‘Mukhiya Ji’: A Result of State Failure

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By Raghawendra Deo:

The death of Mukhiya Ji is being seen by many as a start of new chapter in the history of caste clashes in Bihar which has been in calm for a decade. He formed the Ranvir Sena in the mid-nineties by amalgamating the fringe private armies to counter the threat of ‘land grabbers’ led by CPI-ML, IPF and MCC. Raising a private army was in reaction to the ‘red flag’, which was enough warning to stop tilling the land. In the aftermath what ensued was a series of blood bath in the Sone Basin. The Ranvir Sena became the discussion point of sophomore journalists who always talked about it as a representative of the higher caste’s aggressive stand. At the same time, we rarely find any reference to IPF, MCC and CPI-ML. The rise of private armies by both the land owner and landless and internecine war between them may, however, be seen in different way. For a person with Marxist lineage, it was case study of struggle between bourgeois and proletariat and precursor to the ‘Total Revolution’. For newly awakened casteists, it was only a persecution of lower castes. For zealots, it was an act of pure revenge. For others, it was the result of wide spread unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and very low degree of urbanization and migration. For an administration expert, it was a classical example of failure of state machinery.

The reference ‘private army’ itself is a proof that the State has failed in ensuring safety of life and fair distribution of wealth. The rise of Ranvir Sena has to be seen in the background of journey of democratic Bihar since independence. It cannot be seen only as reactionary force to gun wielding Red cadets which propagated annihilation by cutting short by six inches. The first Government of the Bihar was led by Dr. Krishna Singh, who, unlike some big leaders of that time was not a visionary. In most of the other States some efforts, albeit half-hearted, were taken towards land reform. However, it was almost neglected and any suggestion towards it fiercely resisted. Administration was almost run solely on caste lines. Due to high population density, pressure on the land was too heavy to accommodate everyone in the absence of alternate employment to both the land owner and the landless. The State was non-functional in almost every aspect. The neglect of public health, education and physical infrastructure affected all people of all castes. Naturally, the worst sufferers were the poor who could not afford the private services in absence of public ones. Growing awareness among the marginalized as to their basic right of livelihood with dignity compounded with the State failure and utter disparity became the fertile ground for growth of Maoist doctrine. The people who ruled Bihar in the initial phase should show sagacity in accepting the fact that their myopic, ungenerous and self-centered attitude in administration resulted in an opportunity lost in making Bihar modern. The rise of Lalu was not a sudden but a culmination of frustration, a seething anger which burst into his famous statement “Shave BHU-RA BAA-LA. He rode the popularity chart by becoming the messiah of poor and down-trodden. It is different fact he immediately forgot the mandate given to him. He created fantasies in the marginalized (not OBCs) people about false hopes of empowerment. At the same time the appointment of some of the officers who were hostile to the caste who were earlier the dominant caused frustration. At this time one group was asserting itself under the banner of Red flag and other faced gloomy futures ahead for their coming generation and treated land as treasure to be saved at any cost. It was the time when Bihar was burning and Nero, along with its entire posse of police force, was busy in public entertainment. The State machinery had totally failed. In this state of despondency and chaos, intelligentsia, instead of vehemently condemning, tacitly supported the side to which they belonged. Some of the carnage alleged like Bara to have been State sponsored. In such a chaotic and gloomy atmosphere, Mukhiyaji emerged as a person who countered the Red threat in their language. In the struggle the blood fell mostly of the Bhumihar’s and Mussahar’s. Hence, the frail-looking personality became hero when the local administration failed.

Like the caste carnage, the genesis of every evil gripping Bihar can be traced to State failure. However, is the murder a return of the dark era? This, according to me, is not the case. Much water has flown in Sone since then and people sitting in either side of the fence should know the futility of making land the butcher’s altar. The holding of land has been fragmented and the ground reality of land holding today is totally different from what it was sixty years back. The poor are poor because the State has failed to reach to them. This deprivation and discontent will continue until their economic position is uplifted. Political consciousness without economic upliftment will only result in social discord. The young intelligent people from Bihar spread across the globe should take the lead position rather than remaining silent. The road rampage of youngsters during the last possession of the Mukhiyaji is ominous. If caste-consciousness in the form of other-caste hatred is not annihilated, the blood sucker ghost may again return in the rice bowl of Bihar. The only solution is strengthening public administration and law & order, effective delivery mechanism and quality education. Sushashan will not be a reality if only road is built.

The people should know that our nation has suffered a lot in the past due to caste. The enemy is still at our door but we cannot see him. This time he is trying to enter out country, not by carrying sword in his hand. The strategy is subtle and totally different. Beware, we should not become ploys in their hands. We should become a strong nation by treating every Indian as our brother to make a strong India. Let us annihilate the caste consciousness and caste ignominy.

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