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The private armies and the politics of ban

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 17, 2007

In the late ’60s the lower caste peasants from Bihar drawing inspiration from Naxalism in West Bengal raised the banner of revolt against the traditional exploitation of the landlords. The upper caste landlords and intermediate castes formed many private armies. The Rajputs were the first among the upper castes to form the private armies, the Kuer Sena in 1969. The formation of Kuer Sena was followed by the Brahmarishi Sena of Bhumihars, Lorik Sena of Yadavs, and Bhoomi Sena of Koiris. [1]

The Bathani Tola massacre of July 11, 1996 was a turning point in the State’s troubled caste history. The Ranvir Sena men killed 21 Dalits.

In the intervening night of 1 and 2 December 1997, Ranvir Senas perpetrated Laxmanpur Bathe massacre in which 59 Dalits including 26 women and 19 were children under the age of 10 slaughtered.

In the Shanker Bigha massacre in Jehanabad on 25 June 1999, 23 Dalits were killed by suspected Ranvir Senas

On 10 February 1999, 12 Dalits were massacred at Narayanpur in Jehnabad. The Narayanpur massacre was a political landmark in Bihar’s rocky history. The National Democratic Alliance government dismissed the Rabri Devi government only to be reinstated later.

The Ranvir Senas have been reportedly involved in 33 massacre cases claiming over 280 lives. [2] Pregnant women and children appear to be the Ranvir Sena’s special targets, for it apparently views attacks on them as an easy means to check the increase in the Dalit population. [3] Four central Bihar districts of Jahanabad, Arwal, Gaya and Bhojpur, as well as Goh block of Paliganj and Paliganj block of Patna district bore the brunt of the Ranvir Sena.

The Ranvir Sena Chief Barmeshwar Singh, alias Mukhiaji, has been arrested and facing in a large number of criminal cases, which included those related to massacres. The state government opposed the bail application of Mr Singh before the Patna High Court in April 2006.

However, unlike the Peoples War (PW) neither the Central government nor state government of Bihar banned Ranvir Sena. The Centre declared the MCC and PW as “terrorist organisations” under section 18 of the Prevention of Terrorist Act, 2002 and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004.

The Amir Das Commission was set up on December 27, 1997 to probe the alleged political links of the banned outfit of upper castes, Ranveer Sena, whose activists had reportedly butchered 61 Dalits at Laxmanpur Bathe on December 1, 1997. Until today, not a single report has been submitted. Instead of seeking the truth, Bihar government has disbanded the Commission after its term expired in the first week of April 2006.


[1] . Caste war in Bihar: Role of private armies, The Hindustan Times, available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/6253_150369,00160003.htm

[2] . Voters panic as Ranvir Sena chief joins fray, The Statesman, 24 February 2004

[3] . Caste war in Bihar: Role of private armies, The Hindustan Times, available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/6253_150369,00160003.htm

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