Sunday, June 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ranvir Sena massacres 35 in Bihar
Call for Rabri Government’s dismissal

PATNA, June 17 (UNI, PTI) — Outlawed Ranvir Sena activists mowed down at least 35 persons from the backward community and injured 19 at Mianpur village in Bihar’s Aurangabad district last night apparently in retaliation to the June 11 massacre of 12 upper caste persons at Afsar village in Nawada district.

Official sources said heavily armed activists of the Ranvir Sena, a private army of landlords, stormed into the village and rained bullets, killing 30 persons in their sleep. Among the slain were 20 women.

Five of the injured succumbed on the way to hospital, while the condition of 10 injured, admitted to different hospitals, was stated to be critical.

The Ranvir Sena later claimed responsibility for last night’s massacre and threatened recurrence of such killings if the Rashtriya Janata Dal government continued raking up caste feelings in society.

It also threatened to give a “fitting reply,” if the massacre of upper caste members continued.

Those killed by the private army of upper caste landlords were 26 belonging to the Yadav community, six Dalits and two others, superintendent of police M. V. Rao told reporters at Mianpur.

He said at least 100 Sena men dressed in black commando-like uniform and armed with SLRs and sharp-edged weapons attacked the village around 4 p.m. but were challenged by the villagers leading to a gunbattle for nearly four hours.

The assailants finally stormed the houses of victims when the villagers ran out of ammunition, he said.

Eight people have been taken into custody in connection with the day’s killing.

The death dance continued for nearly half-an-hour and the attackers shouted slogans like “Ranvir Sena Zindabad”, “Laloo-Rabri murdabad” and “badla lekar rahenge” before fleeing from the scene into the darkness, eyewitnesses said.

Mianpur, a backward village not accessible by road, is barely 10 km from Senari village where 34 upper caste villagers were killed by the Maoist Communist Centre last year.

Director-General of Police K. A. Jacob said additional companies of paramilitary forces had been rushed to Aurangabad.

Mr Rao said intensive raids were being conducted and entry and exit points to the district had been sealed to prevent the killers from escaping.

In Patna, Chief Minister Rabri Devi ordered the district administration to bring the killers to book immediately.

The state government, she said, would make an ex gratia payment of Rs 1.10 lakh to the dependents of each of the victims, besides Rs 20,000 for construction of houses under Indira Awas Yojana.

Government job would be provided to an eligible member of each of the affected family, she said.

The massacre has dealt a severe blow to the government’s decision to constitute a task force to prevent such incidents.

All together 52 persons have been killed in three successive massacres in Nawada and Aurangabad districts this month.

Some of the women victims identified were Sujata Kumari (15), Sheokumari Devi (30), Rita Devi (25), Dulariya Devi (60), Usha (25), Deo Kumari Devi (15), Kauti (14), Urmila (25), Rina Devi (28), Suqia Devi (50) and Meena (28) and 10-year-old Basu.

Inspector-General of Police Neelmani did not rule out the “connivance” of some policemen in the carnage and said they would be brought to justice.

An alert had already been sounded in the extremist-hit districts of south and central Bihar with close surveillance being maintained on the movement of the Sena and ultra Left outfits, he said.

Static deployment of paramilitary forces was being made in all vulnerable pockets of the districts, he added.

RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav, who rushed to the spot, persuaded the angry villagers, who had earlier prevented the officials from removing the bodies, to cremate the victims.

Mr Yadav, who also met the injured admitted to Magadh Medical College Hospital in Gaya, said the incident was “part of a sinister design” to destabilise the Rabri Devi government by “feudal and communal forces.”

He assured the bereaved families of all assistance from the state government.

Chief Minister Rabri Devi, who visited the village, assured her government’s commitment to wiping out extremism in the state. The government would not bow to any pernicious force, trying to defame the RJD government, she added.

Expressing concern at the killing, she said the incident “smacked of cowardice” and appealed to the people to extend their wholehearted support to contain criminal activities.

The Congress, the BJP and the CPI have held the Rabri Devi government responsible for the worsening law and order situation in Bihar.

The state unit of the Congress has demanded a judicial inquiry into the rise in criminal incidents in Bihar during the past fortnight.

Before leaving for the village where yesterday’s massacre took place, Congress state unit president Chandan Bagchi said the party had taken strong exception to the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and had already made known its feelings to the party high command.

NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, on Saturday said the Centre was not in a position to impose President’s rule in Bihar in the wake of massacre of 35 Yadavs and asked the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government to take firm steps to check violence.

“We are not in a position to do it. We do not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha”, Mr Vajpayee told electronic media in reply to questions on the possibility of imposition of central rule in Bihar.

All political parties would have to reach a consensus on the issue and evolve a strategy to prevent such massacres, Mr Vajpayee said while condemning the gruesome incident.

Asking the state government to initiate firm measures to deal with the situation, Mr Vajpayee assured it that the Centre would provide all assistance.

“The killing spree must come to an end and people should stand up against it”, Mr Vajpayee said, adding that innocent people were being targeted.

Meanwhile, in an obvious attempt to urge the Congress and the Left parties to withdraw support from the Rabri Devi government in Bihar, the National Democratic Alliance parties have offered not to stake claim to power in the state in the event of fall of the RJD-led coalition for want of support on the issue of Bihar killings.

While the BJP, the leader of the NDA coalition, said the NDA did not have the numbers, the Samata Party asked the Congress to withdraw its support to the RJD government by saying that the NDA would not stake claim if it withdrew its support to the Rabri Devi government in light of yesterday’s killings at Aurangabad by the banned landlord outfit Ranvir Sena.

BJP general secretary Jana Krishnamurthy was, however, ambiguous on the issue when he said the BJP could consider forming the government in case the Congress withdrew its support.

Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly categorically stated the NDA would not form the government and President’s rule and a change in administration was needed for the caste violence-torn state. The NDA had done all it could do in a democratic set-up, including bringing the state under President’s rule, she said. “The key is now with the Congress which supports Rabri Devi, with all its 23 MLAs becoming ministers,’’ she added.

Earlier, the BJP, while condemning the killing, asked the Congress to come out of the coalition if it was interested in restoration of rule of law. Its leader Mr J.P. Mathur, said the Congress could not absolve itself of the responsibility following the massacre. “It should therefore come out of the government forthwith to establish its credentials,” he said.

The Samata Party also held the Congress “fully responsible” for the frequent bloodshed and demanded that it should withdraw support to the RJD government to pave way for imposition of President’s rule there.

The Janata Dal (United) mounted pressure on the Congress and Left parties by stating that these parties would now have to answer the people of the country as to how long would they tolerate the killings in Bihar, where four massacres had taken place in the last fortnight.

Union Agriculture Minister Nitish Kumar said an all-party advisory committee should be constituted to check the rising incidents of violence in Bihar.

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