People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXVI

No. 46

November 18, 2012


 

BIHAR

 

Sushil Sahuís Killers must not Go Unpunished

 

Arun Kumar Mishra

 

ALL the leading newspapers publishing from Patna have prominently reported the incident of firing in Ashok Paper Mill of Darbhanga, which resulted in the death of an innocent young man, Sushil Sahu, son of Baiju Sahu, a worker of the same mill, and critically injuring Dukhi Yadav and Dukhharan Yadav.

 

The trouble started when the management tried to smuggle out all the scraps along with machines in the dead of night. The director of the mill, Dharam Godha, was himself directing the whole operation.

 

The workers of the mill and the neighbouring villagers got the smell, assembled near the mill and blocked the way to stop the trucks laden with scrapes and machines. Though, with the help of private guards and the local police, the management threatened the gathering, the workers and the villagers were determined not to allow the management to have its way.

 

The local police administration was found acting at the behest of the management. This further infuriated the workers and the villagers. Somebody torched one of the trucks. Who did this mischief, is not known. But, taking it as an excuse, the police and the private guards started a firing on the agitating villagers and workers. According to eyewitness reports, fifteen rounds of bullets were fired, killing one person and injuring two.

 

State CPI(M) secretary Vijay Kant Thakur, who was then camping at Darbhanga, held the stateís home and industry ministers as being directly responsible for this incident. In a statement issued from Darbhanga, he demanded the resignation of the two ministers who have been protecting Dharam Godha while knowing full well that the latter was is not interested in the millís opening. He referred to the letters sent by the district magistrate (DM) of Darbhanga and expressed his surprise as to how Godha was allowed to act in such a criminal way. Thakur demanded that the complicity of the local police and the entire incident, leading to the death of an innocent young man, must be investigated by the CBI. He also informed that it was after an intervention by the CPI(M)ís local unit that the administration was forced to accept an FIR against the incharge of the local police station and against Dharam Godha. He warned that if the two accused were not arrested within four days, the party would give a call for Darbhanga Bandh.

 

One must recall that Ashok Paper Mill has been one of the major industries along with several sugar mills dotting North Bihar. For the last two decades, workers have been carrying on many struggles to get it reopened, but to no avail.

 

In the month of June 2012, the CPI(M) district committee took up this issue and organised a convention highlighting the plight of the mill workers. The convention decided to launch a movement for the reopening of the mill. In the month of July, a dharna was organised in Patna. A large number of villagers and workers participated in it, urging the government to take over the mill and either run it or hand the land over to the landless villagers. The party also warned that if the government did not move in this matter, it would mobilise the landless villagers to occupy the land. However, the government did not take any step and the party had therefore no option but to intensify the struggle. Thousands of villagers, with red flags in their hands, occupied the mill land on July 22, finally forcing the administration to wake up. Then, Darbhanga DM himself talked to the agitating leaders and assured them that the government would take appropriate action. But it seems that Godha has direct access to the higher-ups in the government. Nothing was done despite the letters written by Darbhanga DM about Godhaís intention of not running the mill but selling off the entire assets illegally and using the land for other purposes.

 

The November 11 firing has thoroughly exposed the so-called good governance of the Nitish government.

 

The CITU state committee has called for solidarity actions with the agitating workers and the villagers. It has also demanded resignation of the home and industry ministers along with arrests of the police incharge and Dharam Godha. It also demanded that the family member of the deceased and injured must be compensated adequately.