A spate of crimes perpetrated against the oppressed, Dalits and women in several districts of Bihar has put a question mark on the ability of the Nitish Kumar government to tackle the ever-increasing attacks aided by the old- and neo-feudal elements who rule the hinterland and are the pillars of political support to the present dispensation.
Newspaper headlines in the past week make it amply clear that the political change of guard in Bihar has emboldened the feudal elements and that they have gone berserk. In Noorsarai in Nalanda, a poor man of low caste origin was humiliated and beaten up by female members of a mukhia’s family for the simple reason that he did not knock the door before entering the house. The police remained silent till a purported video of the incident went viral on social media.
A 14-year-old schoolgirl was abducted from her house in Tajpur in Samastipur district. The girl’s father and a villager caught the two abductors and handed over them to the local police. But the police did not take any action as the criminals enjoyed the support of the local JD(U) MLA. In the same area, a popular rural doctor, Janardan Thakur, was gunned down. The two incidents, taking place in a span of a few days, enraged the local people and they came out on the road in large numbers and blocked the national highway. Police miserably failed to tackle the situation and resorted to firing indiscriminately resulting in the death of an innocent young man, Jeetendra Bhandari. Several others were injured as the police chased and beat them mercilessly.
In Khagaria district, the entire Chamasia village inhabited by Dalits was burnt down by a criminal gang operating in the area in collusion with the land mafia who indulged in such crimes to drive away the landless people from the tiny plots where they live in thatched houses, to grab those lands. In Muzaffarpur district, the house of a Dalit family was raged to the ground and the police did not file an FIR even after it was informed about the incident.
In Patna, a Dalit girl who had gone to work in the fields was raped. A college-going girl was abducted and gang raped in Tilakmanjhi in Bhagalpur. Later, she committed suicide.
The list is indicative not exhaustive. Reports of incidents of assault, rape, burning of houses are pouring in from different corners of the state. In all such cases, only the Left parties have intervened and in some cases forced the administration to take action.
The CPI(M) state secretary visited Tajpur on October 21 and met the family members of the victims. The Samastipur district unit of the party registered its protest by organising demonstrations on the same day and on October 24, demonstrations were organised in every block of the district demanding the arrest of the culprits, adequate compensation to the family members of the deceased, and punitive action and filing of criminal cases against the guilty police personnel.
The Khagaria district committee of the party sat on a dharna before the district magistrate’s office on October 24, demanding the arrest of the members of the criminal gang responsible for the burning of houses in Chamasia village, rehabilitation of the victims with adequate compensation and safety. Before the dharna, a delegation of the party leaders led by Bihar Khetihar Mazdoor Union president Devendra Chaurasia visited the village. According to him, the villagers are scared and are getting daily threats from the members of the criminal gang.
The so-called social justice forces have run their course and now they have metamorphosed into the neo-feudal forces acting in tandem with the old feudal groups.
The land-owning middle castes, with the backing of the state power, are imitating the same old feudal brutality of high caste people towards the Dalits, women and other vulnerable sections of the society.
The migration of the rural men to far-off places in search of jobs have provided these neo-feudal elements the opportunity to resort to sexual assaults on the women members. Such incidents have been reported earlier from the Kosi belt. With all the tall talk of empowering the Mahadalits and women, it is they who are facing the worst attacks under the so-called “sushashan or good governance” of Nitish Kumar.