Bathani Tola Acquittal: Political Complicity And Issues of Justice
In Feudal And Communal Massacres
By CPI(ML) Liberation
21 April, 2012
CONVENTION : 23 April 2012
5.15 PM- Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF)
Justice (Retd.) Rajinder Sachar
Ramji Rai, PB Member, CPI(ML)
And several others
Bathani Tola Massacred by Ranveer Sena in Laloo’s Bihar –
Bathani Tola Massacred Judicially in Nitish Regime!
We Want Justice for Bathani Tola Victims!
On 11 July 1996, a private army of upper caste landlords (Ranveer Sena) brutally massacred 8 children, 12 women, and 1 man in the hamlet of Bathani Tola of Bhojpur (Bihar), most of whom were dalit and Muslim landless poor. The massacre – by men armed with swords and guns – began at 2 in the afternoon. There was a police thana a mere 100 metres away, and 3 other thanas about 1-2 kms away in different directions. But no police interrupted the dance of death which continued for three hours.
Though massacres by feudal armies was nothing new in Bihar, the sheer scale and ferocity of the Bathani Tola massacre marked a new phase and signified a new reactionary political mobilisation. 18-year old Shayra Khatun, was gang-raped before being killed. 25-year old Lakhiya Devi’s breasts were chopped off. A baby daughter of Nayeemuddin, yet to be named, was tossed in the air and chopped in two as she fell. A pregnant woman’s womb was slashed open and the foetus impaled on a sword. Such acts by the Ranveer Sena appear to have provided a sort of template for some of the horrors of the Gujarat massacre by the Sangh Parivar.
An Ara sessions court in 2010 convicted 23 for the massacre, sentencing 3 to death and 20 to life. And this month, the Bihar High Court acquitted all 23, observing that “The investigation was not fair in respect of the persons who perpetrated the ghastly crime ... Apparently investigation has (sic) directed in a particular direction far from the truth and not above suspicion.”
Nayeemuddin, one of the survivors who lost several family members, asks, “Who killed 21 people that afternoon, if it wasn’t those we named in the FIR?” He also asks, “Who will take responsibility for my life, now that all those I gave evidence against are free?” Someone owes him and the other survivors an answer.
So, who killed 21 at Bathani Tola and why?
Bathani Tola’s landless poor dalits and minorities were being punished for the temerity of their political and social assertion with the CPI(ML). After Bathani, other similar massacres at Laxmanpur Bathe, Shankarbigha, and Miyanpur followed. The Ranveer Sena enjoyed the thinly veiled political patronage of several leaders and parties. The Ranveer Sena issued leaflets in support of the BJP during elections, and many of its patrons were in the BJP and what is today the JD(U), but also in Laloo Prasad’s JD.
Once Nitish Kumar’s BJP-JD(U) Government came to power, it has done all it can to protect the Sena and embolden feudal-communal forces. The first thing the Government did was to disband the Amir Das Commission, which had enquired into the political linkages of the Ranveer Sena and was said to be about to name several BJP-JD(U) as well as some Congress and RJD leaders who had funded and patronised the Sena. Brahmeshwar Singh is free today and has addressed a triumphant press conference after the Bathani acquittal, thanks to the fact that the Nitish Government didn’t oppose his bail plea. In Nitish’s Bihar, 10 mahadalits are sentenced to death for the Amausi massacre while perpetrators of feudal atrocities against dalits and the rural poor go scot free. The hatred shown by the police to the poor Muslims at Forbesganj is reminiscent to what was seen at Bathani Tola.
Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh was protected all along by the Laloo regime. There is silence from Bihar's official Opposition leaders Laloo Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan after the acquittal. (There is also deafening silence from other parties whose political USP is supposed to be social justice and dalit empowerment.
Can the people of Bathani Tola, Bathe, Shankarbigha and Miyanpur expect justice, given the Nitish Government’s patronage of the Ranveer Sena? Why does justice elude the victims of the communal carnage of Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002?
Let us call the bluff of Nitish Kumar’s slogan of ‘Justice With Development.’ Let us continue the struggle in every possible way for justice in all feudal and communal massacres.
Do join a Convention at GPF, 5.15 pm, 23 April, to discuss the above issues.
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