PUCL Bulletin, April 2004
Killing at Mirzapur, Jehanabad on 13 January, 2004
-- By- Prabhakar Sinha, National Vice President; Ramchandra Lal Das, State President, Kishori Das, State General Secretary
The Bihar State PUCL constituted a committee consisting of Dr. Prabhakar Sinha, National Vice President, Ram Chandra Lal Das, State President and Kishori Das, State General Secretary to enquire into the killing of four persons of Mirzapur in Jehanabad district on 13th January 2004. The committee visited Mirzapur on 1 February 2004 and met a large number of villagers including Gopal Sharma, Mundev Sharma, Nagendra Sinha, Madan Mohan Kumar, Rajeev Kumar and Sheodeo Sharma. It also visited Shakurabad police station under which the village Mirzapur comes, and met the police officers headed by A. Ain. All the police officers were new, as those posted there when the killing took place had been transferred. However, the FIR in addition to other relevant information was made available for perusal.
The incident at Mirzapur
The village according to villages is inhabited by Bhumihar, 50 Mushahar, 10 Ramani, 5 Paswan and 4-5 Teli families. It is surrounded by open fields and there is no village within 1.5 km in any direction. Its isolated location makes it particularly vulnerable as the attackers may escape without resistance after committing the crime.
There is a small ‘Hanuman Mandir’ in the open field to the north of the village. It is located at a distance of a few hundred yards from the nearest village. The villagers assemble there on Tuesday evenings for prayer and worship. They had assembled there for prayer and worship on Tuesday, 13 January, 2004 as usual. According to the eye witnesses, suddenly the killers descended on them is a large number and opened indiscriminate fire. It was 7 o’ clock or so in the evening and was particularly dark due to dense fog. The villagers ran helter skelter to save their lives. One Sudarshan Sharma ran inside the Mandir and felt dead just in front of the idol of Hanuman.
Two were allegedly caught, taken to the field and shot dead one made person was shot dead near the Mandir. The villagers said that they ran here and there to save their lives and were too scared to try to identify the killers or ascertain their number. However, their guess was that they numbered about one hundred. However, according to them, they belonged to the People’s War Group (PWG) since they raised slogans in its favour. The Mandir has several bullet marks on its eastern, western and southern walls confirming that the victims were attacked from three sides and were in discriminately fired upon.
There were bullet marks on the inner wall behind the idol in the ‘Mandir’. The following were shot dead:
Sudarshan Sharma (50-52); Shyam Sundar Sharma (Pujaari) (35-40); Vinod Sharma (30); Santan Kumar (16-17)
The injured: Kaushal Sharma (30); Golu (8) hit in the leg.
The cause according to the villagers
They claimed that their village had no connection with the Ranveer Sena nor was there any clash between the (Upper Caste) Bhumihars and their labourers. They claimed there was good will and amity between the Bhumihars and the backward communities. However, they claimed to have been harassed by the PWG in the past also. The PWG is alleged to have taken away a few oxen from the village, and they had also demanded ‘Chanda’ (donation) which “we refused”.
Sharing their perception of the incident and their plight, they alleged that (1) the PWG views all Bhumihars as the Ranveer Sena, (2) the administration has left them (i.e. the Bhumihars) at the mercy of the marauders, and (3) the PWG, RJD (Laloo Prasad, Rashtriya Janata Dal), and the Yadavas are all one and the same in targeting the Bhumihars. In support of their allegation they stated that the police arrived only at 1 a.m. though the police station was only at a distance of 4-5 kms. They also alleged that apprehending attack from the “Ugrawaadi’ (extremists), they had wanted license for arms but were not issued any. There is only one licensed gun at the village, which is also seized. Referring to the killing for no reason other than being a Bhumihar, they alleged that following the murder of a JPF leader, Nagendra Yadav during the last Panchayat election one Pawan Sharma, a khalasi (cleaner of a bus) hailing from Dharampur was murdered at Uchata Similarly, Prahlad Sharma and Dhananjay Sharma were murdered at 3 p.m. at Pandaul Mor (Road Cross). Alleging the hostile attitude of the RJD and its administration, they alleged that even their local RJD MLA Bagi Kumar Verma did not visit the village after the killing. They said that they voted for the BJP, but it did not mean that they should be discriminated against by the local MLA and the administration.
The police officers at Shakurabad had joined after the incident at 13 January, 2004 and were unable to say anything about the allegation of indifference or hostility of the police. However, they categorically stated that a dangerous hostility existed between the Bhumihars and the Yadavas in the areas. They said that there were villages of Bhumihars through which a Yadav could not pass safely. They also mentioned incidents in which innocent Yadavas and Bhumihars were killed simply because they belonged to their castes concerned. In fact, the police officers said that the caste hatred between the Bhumihars and the Yadavas was so strong and intense in the area that even if some minor conflict between the two communities occurred, the people passing by might be killed if they were identified to belong to the enemy caste. They showed us the motor cycle of a young innocent Bhumihar school teacher who was cut into pieces by the Yadavas because of his caste. An innocent Yadav would meet the same fate at the hands of the Bhumihars.
The police, after consulting their record stated that those killed have no criminal antecedent nor did they belong to the Ranveer Sena. They also confirmed that there was no tension or conflict at Mirzapur was it known to be a centre of Ranveer Sena. However, one Baijnath Sharma of its village according to the police record belonged to the Ranveer Sena and was a declared absconder. He was accused in several cases of murder, attempt to murder, Arms Act, and under CLA Act. There were a few others from that village who were accused in several criminal cases of grave nature, but were not known to belong to the Ranveer Sena.
Responsibility for the Killing: the PWG has accepted the responsibility for the killing at Mirzapur, as such there is no doubt about the identity of the organisation responsible for the incident.
Jehanabad has been an area of armed clashed of the CPI (ML) Liberation, PWG and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) on the one hand and the armed groups of the landowners on the other for the last two decades or more. The landowners had formed several ‘Senas’ which ultimately either surrendered to the CPI (ML) groups or disintegrated. The latest in the series of the of the ‘Senas’ of the Landowners in the Ranveer Sena which has indulged in the massacre of the innocent unarmed and defenseless Dalits/Backwards perceived by it to be supporters of the so called Naxalites (i.e. the CPI(ML). The Ranveer Sena is also believed to be organised by Bhumihar landowners thought there may be a few others also in it. The clashes between the armed CPI (ML) groups and the Ranveer Sena appear to follow ‘a tooth’ for a tooth and an eye for an eye policy.’ The Bihar PUCL has found in its various investigations that innocent unarmed and defenseless Dalits or members of the backward casts have been killed by the Ranveer Sena for no fault other than being supporters or sympathisers of the CPI (ML) groups. Similarly Bhumihar villages have been targeted by the CPI (ML) groups and defenseless innocent persons murdered because all Bhumihars are believed to be supporters of the Ranveer Sena.
Some of the killings characterizing this approach are killing by the Ranveer Sena at Sankar Bigha (22 killed, January, 1999), and Minpur (33 killed, June 2000), and those by the CPI (ML) groups at Usri Bazar (7 killed, 14.2.1999, CPI (ML) –Liberation), Bhumppura (killed 4, March 19999, PWG), and Sanari (killed 34, March, 1999, MCC). The list is not exhaustive and is mentioned because the PUCL on investigation had found that the Ranveer Sena had targeted the downtrodden simply because they were perceived to be the supporters of the so called Naxalites and with an aim to create such terror that the downtrodden would not dare associate with them. In response the CPI (ML) groups targeted innocent Bhumihars to take revenge and give them the message to keep away from the Ranveer Sena. In fact at Sanari, there MCC had left behind written message warning that if the massacre of the Dalits would continue, incidents of massacre like those of Sanari, Baraa and Dulamchak (other places where massacres of innocent purpose were committed by MCCC) would also continue.
- The killing at Mirzapur is one more incident in the ongoing series of revenge killing as a result of the policy of a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye being pursued by the Ranveer Sena and the armed squads of the CPI (ML) groups active in the area.
- The four persons killed were victims of the revenge killing, as according to the police, they had neither criminal antecedent nor were members of the Ranveer Sena.
- The unsuspecting victims were engaged in Puja and were killed in a surprise attack. This neatly falls into the pattern of choosing soft targets by all attacking armed groups.
- The castes hatred between the Bhumihars and the Yadavas has assumed a dangerous proportion disrupting normal life in the area and needs to be addressed at the earliest by the saner sections of society of the state.
- The state government has totally abdicated its responsibility and left the people to settle all other disputes by fighting it out among themselves and ensure their safely or security in whatever manner they like if they can, or suffer the loss of their lives and liberty if they can’t.
- The situation in Jehanabad is a direct consequence of the state government policy of turning a blind eye to one and all illegality being committed by those who have the might to do so.
- If the state government does not shoulder its responsibility, the blood-letting in Jehanabad, Arwal and other areas of conflict would continue endlessly. The responsibility of all the innocent blood being shed is on the head of the State Government, which has chosen to turn a blind eye to the ongoing butchery.
- We appeal to the State Government to shoulder its constitutional responsibility and to enforce the rule of law, guarantee of the safety and security of life and liberty of all regardless of their caste or party affiliation.
- The PUCL appeals to all groups to put an end to the policy of a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye so that lives of innocent, unsuspecting, defenseless men, women and children may be spared.
The truth is that the policy of an eye for an eye makes the whole blind.
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