By Rama Dwivedi:
The world dreams of a fearless existence of the mankind- where there is no poverty and desolation and people live in a secure atmosphere. Providing a secure atmosphere to its people is the responsibility of a democratically elected state, but the recent acquittal of 26 accused in the Laxmanpur-Bathe carnageÂ by the High Court has raised a big question mark on the system, especially on the judiciary. Members of theÂ Ranvir SenaÂ Â (an upper-caste landlord militia formed by Bhumihar Brahmin landlords, to stop aspirations of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes people by violent means and their organized killings) killed at least 61 people and seriously injured 20 in the carnage.Â As the butchers walk free again, the fear of facing a violent repercussion looms large in the minds of the inhabitants of this dalit settlement in the Arwal district of Bihar.
This is not the first instance where the idea of justice seems null and void in the state of Bihar. The state High Court had upturned lower court convictions in Bathani Tola, Nagari and now Bathe massacre case. Unlike Bathani Tola case where the court declared that any true eye witness could only be dead, at least here the court validated the eyewitnesses only to overlook their identification.
On December 1, 1997, SenaÂ members raided 14 dalit homes, killing at least 61 people and seriously injuring around 20. As most of the men fled the village when the attack began, women and children were the main victims. Five girls, around 15-years of age were raped and mutilated before being shot in the chest. The Ranvir Sena also killed around eight members of the mallah community who had the misfortune to ferry them across the Sone River after the attack.
When asked why the sena killed children and women, one sena member told Human Rights Watch,Â “We kill children because they will grow up to become Naxalites. We kill women because they will give birth to Naxalites.” Sena leaders, who are rarely prosecuted for such killings, claim many politicians as members. They are rarely prosecuted for such killings, and the villagers are seldom or inadequately compensated for their losses.
Even in cases where police are not hostile to dalits, they are generally not accessible to call upon. Most police camps are located in the upper-caste section of the village and Dalits are simply unable to approach them for protection.
After the Lakshmanpur-Bathe carnage, the Bihar government, under the RJD rule, set Justice Amir Das Commission to inquire into the matter and announced that police would be deployed in the affected area to curb the violence. The police force, as expected, instead of keeping an eye on the butchers, was reportedly found harassing dalits so as to restrain ‘extremism’.
Bihar under Laalu saw numerous, over 15, cases of violence against dalit by the upper-caste landlords when hardly any law to contain the upper class militancy was formulated. Forget the Commissions because they hardly take sincere accounts, and the camouflaged ‘messiah of mahadalits’ — Nitish Kumar, left no stones unturned in slaughtering the rights of the oppressed as he disbanded the Amir Das Commission within six-months of his tenure as Bihar Chief Minister.
They say public memory is short, media memory is shorter. The stories that the media pursues like a pack of hounds for a while, suddenly, mysteriously and inexplicably goes into a deep slumber. Be it Phailin- the deadly cyclone or the God’s retirement, this story has sailed through at least in the alternate media. I hope it doesn’t get buried anytime soon.