"Indra protected in battle the Aryan worshipper, he subdued the lawless for Manu, he conquered the black skin."
[ Rig Veda I.130.8 ]
A history of massacresby Venkitesh Ramakrishnan
Frontline Vol. 16,
[ Rig Veda IX.73.5 ]
" MUCH blood has been spilt in Bihar in caste violence over the past three decades. Between the first reported caste-based massacre, at Rupaspur Chandwa in Purnea district in 1971, and the latest bloodbath, at Narayanpur village in Jehanabad district on February 10, there were 59 recorded instances of mass murders, in which about 600 people were killed. The majority of these were directed at Dalits and were carried out by the private armies of the upper castes, such as the Ranvir Sena, the Bhoomi Sena, the Brahmarshi Sena, the Sunlight Sena and the Savarna Liberation Army. The Dalechak-Bagholia killings of 1987 and the Bara carnage of 1992 were perpetrated by a naxalite group, the Marxist Coordination Committee (MCC).
According to Oliver Mendelsohn and Marika Vicziany, authors of The
Untouchables: Subordination, Poverty and the State in Modern India, a
comprehensive account of the phenomenon of untouchability, the caste-based
massacres are brutal manifestations of the "violent and primordial
casteism" that has overtaken Bihar. The authors point out that although
the naxalite movement is by and large dedicated to and partly composed of
Dalits, it is sometimes referred to as caste politics in the guise of
radical political activity.
|According to government statistics, instances of atrocities against Dalits rose dramatically after 1977, the period when the political identity of the backward castes of the State found assertive expression in the elevation of Karpoori Thakur, a leader from a backward caste, as Chief Minister. Similarly, there has been an upsurge in atrocities against Dalits between 1989 and 1999, the period which coincided with the chief ministership of Laloo Prasad Yadav and, lately, his wife Rabri Devi.||
[ Rig Veda IX.73.5 ]
One explanation for this is that the upper castes, who had political, social and administrative supremacy during much of Bihar's recent political history, were responding to the elevation of leaders from backward castes to political power by stepping up attacks against lower-caste populations. Another explanation is that the governments of Karpoori Thakur and Laloo Prasad Yadav were lax in controlling the upper-caste private armies.
impious & lowly"
< "dA'saM va'rNaM a'dharaM
[ Rig Veda II.12.4 ]
Irrespective of the level of accuracy of analyses such as these, the fact remains that the number of attacks against Dalits and other lower-caste people has gone up every time a backward caste leader rose to power. The period between 1990 and 1999 witnessed 35 instances of caste-based massacres, the total number of victims being about 400. More than 350 of those killed were from among the lower castes.
[ ill. - At Lakshmanpur-Bathe on December 1, 1997, when 63 persons were killed in an attack by the Ranvir Sena. ]
" The thunderer bestowed on his white friends
the fields, bestowed the sun, bestowed the waters."
[ Rig Veda I.100.18 ]
The Ranvir Sena, which has been active since 1994, is one of the most dreaded private armies in the history of the State. According to informal estimates, the Ranvir Sena, which was formed by the partial or complete merger of upper-caste private armies such as the Savarna Liberation Army and the Sunlight Sena, has killed at least 200 Dalits in the last five years. Ranvir Sena leaders boast that at least 125 of these killings were carried out after July 1995, when the group was banned by the Bihar Government. As the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation has pointed out repeatedly, the ban existed only on paper.
In addition to organised massacres of the residents of entire Dalit villages, the private armies practise unlawful and dehumanising programmes aimed at insulting members of the lower castes and preventing their rise in society. The Savarna Liberation Army's "mass rape" campaign, conducted between March and July 1992 in Gaya and Jehanabad districts, was one of the most heinous among these. More than 200 Dalit women between the ages of six and 70 were raped by a group of activists of the Savarna Liberation Army. Each of these incidents was given publicity by the perpetrators of the crime.
" [T]he Aryans enforced the caste system on the Black population (the
inhabitants of India),
with a cold-blooded racist logic with [w]hites on the top, mixed races in
the middle and the mass of the
conquered Blacks at the bottom.
Rajshekar, `Dalit: The Black Untouchables of India', p.44.
Ranvir Sena leaders claim that the operation was intended to avenge the killing of 34 Bhumihar landlords at Bara by the Maoist Coordination Centre (MCC). It was a "lesson" to the Dalits, that if they tried to take on the landlords the women of their communities would be humiliated. Ranvir Sena activists claim with a macabre sense of glee that the operation was "very effective". The stigma attached to rape victims is such that the operation broke the morale of Dalits of many villages.
Given the prevailing socio-political climate in Bihar, the Senas operate with impunity, justifying their presence with the cycle of retaliatory violence spawned by naxalite groups. Sociologists have pointed out that resort to measures that merely address the violence as a law-and-order problem will not be enough to smash these Senas. Such steps, they say, have to be coupled with bold and far-reaching measures such as land reforms, which address the fundamental problem of economic exploitation and social discrimination of landless agricultural labourers from among the Scheduled Castes by upper-caste feudal landowners. "
Author : Venkitesh Ramakrishnan,
Design : Krishna Rao
Volume 1, Issue 2 (Oct. 1999)