People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 41

October 11, 2009

BIHAR CPI(M)-CPI STATEMENT 

 

Timely Action Could Prevent Khagria Massacre

 

THROUGH a joint statement, the state leaders of CPI(M) and CPI in Bihar have severely condemned the barbaric massacre of 16 poor peasants in Khagriya district of the state, demanding that the CID must immediately arrest the conspirators and perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice through a speedy trial. The demand was raised in a press conference organised on October 3 at the CPI(M) office in Patna, the state capital, and addressed by CPI(M) state secretary Vijaykant Thakur and CPI central executive member Jalaluiddin Ansari. CPI(M) state secretariat member Sarvodaya Sharma was also present on the occasion.

Before the press conference, a team from the CPI(M) had visited Amausi in Khagria district to gather information about the massacre. Gita Yadav, Dange Singh, Devendra Chaurasiya, Jagadish Chandra Basu, Sanjay Kumar and Ram Vinay Singh were part of this team. Similarly, the CPI’s Prabhakar Singh and Prabha Shankar Singh had also made a visit of the village. The information gathered by the two teams were collated at a joint meeting held at Khagria on October 2. Both the parties then decided to hold a press conference in order to publicise their understanding on the episode.

The statement said all the major rivers of Bihar flow through Khagria district and each of these rivers has its own basin. That is why the district has uncultivated land spread over tens of thousands of acres. As this area is a flood prone one, landlords had once donated thousands of acres of uncultivated land to the God. 

After the abolition of landlordism, the uncultivated land came to the government and, with a rise in population, the rural poor made them cultivable and began cultivation. After these lands came under the plough, their prices shot up and therefore the former landlords, in collusion with big cultivators, began to conspire in order to get the possession of these lands. This has resulted in land disputes in hundreds of villages in the district.

Khairi, Khurha, Icharua etc are the villages adjoining Amausi, and a Rai Bahadur from Munger was once the landlord of all these villages. Shrichandan Singh is the heir of the same landlord.

In Amausi, extremely poor mahadalits are in possession of 325 acres of land for decades, and it is these people who had made this land cultivable. Now that this land has become very fertile because of the soil deposited by the rivers, big cultivators have their eyes upon it and want to somehow snatch it from the poor.

Since 2006, there have been at least half a dozen cases of altercation for this land. As soon as the first altercation took place for this land, the poor cultivators applied for settlement of a total of 346 bighas of land under Khasra – 1, Khasra – 1520 and Khasra – 1552. The amin, area inspectors and various other officials had separately scrutinised these applications and found the poor in due possession of this land. However, after their reports reached the CO, he rejected the poor cultivators’ claims without any investigation whatsoever. Later, the DO described the CO’s report as baseless, and asked his clarification on certain points.

The status quo then continued for more than two years. But, about a month ago, the rich peasants of Amausi left their cattle loose to graze the fodder crop standing on the land that is in possession of the poor. The affected poor immediately reported it to the police and administration, but the latter failed to take any action because of political pressure. The recent massacre could well have been avoided if only the police and administration had acted in time.

Even on the night of the heinous massacre, police officers were intimated about it on their mobile phones but none of them cared to pay any heed to it.

The dispute centring on the Bandopadhyaya commission’s report added fuel to the fire. The RJD and LJP have been accusing Nitish Kumar, the chief minister, of backing the sharecroppers while the latter has been denying the allegation. This has convinced the landlords that all the major parties of the state are with them, and this conviction has added to their aggressiveness. Thus, all of these three parties are responsible for creation of the situation in which such a massacre could take place.

On the other hand, none of the victims of this massacre had purchased any part of the disputed land, nor was he the owner of a single acre of land. As many as six of those killed were of 15 to 20 years of age. As for the arrests, one has to think whether a killer can still peacefully live in the village after perpetrating such a crime.

The government and the local police and administration are now busy with their cover-up drive.  But Bihar is today sitting on the mouth of a volcano of land disputes. While the latest massacre has claimed 16 lives, the moot question is: how many more lives will be the cost to be paid before the chief minister makes a move towards a solution to this problem?

The CPI(M) and the CPI have raised the following demands in this regard:

1) The CID must probe the event and hold a speedy trial in order to get exemplary punishments for the criminals.   

2) The landless dalits must be issued the pattas for the disputed land and their possession of the land must be duly protected.

3) Laws regarding sharecropping, consolidation and allotment of homestead plots must be strictly implemented.

4) All such officers of the police and administration must be suspended as are responsible for non-solution of the Amausi dispute, leading to the recent massacre.

5) A compensation of Rs 10 lakh must be given to the family of each of those killed.