Arun Kumar Mishra
THE dastardly bomb attack on a peaceful dharna before Runni Saidpur block headquarter, which claimed the life of Brinda Sahni and left Anaro Devi, a widow, critically injured, has once again proved that the land mafias having open patronage of the ruling parties are hand-in-glove with the local administration in evicting the landless people who have been living on government and ceiling lands for years together.
The Party has already fought a decisive battle in Moglaha village of Madhubani district where the entire hamlet was razed to the ground but after a protracted four-month struggle, the administration was forced to provide homestead land, money to build houses and other amenities.
The homeless people under the leadership of Devendra Yadav, a district committee member of CPI(M), erected their huts at 10.70 acres of ceiling lands and have been living there since 2003. The local CO (Circle Officer) had already finalised the list of 316 beneficiaries and was about to distribute the legal documents. He became ill and went on leave. In the meantime, the BDO, who is a known corrupt officer, hatched a conspiracy and invaded the village with 100 police personnel, along with goons associated with local land mafia, and announced that the authenticity of the residents will be investigated and only then the beneficiaries will be selected and documents will be prepared. It was strongly opposed by the Party unit led by Devendra Yadav. But the BDO was adamant and he allowed the police to misbehave with the agitating inhabitants.
The incident occurred on January 10, 2019. From January 11, the villagers sat on an indefinite hunger strike before the block office. For four days, the administration did not take any notice, neither were they summoned for talks. But on January 16, leader of the movement Devendra Yadav was called for a talk at BDO’s office. The Party decided to send senior CPI(M) leader Madan Roy to lead the delegation for talks. As the talk was in progress in BDO’s office, a bomb was thrown targeting Devendra Yadav, who was addressing the gathering. Bomb exploded in the midst of the people sitting on dharna. Two comrades, Brinda Sahni and Anaro Devi, suffered severe burns.
Sahni breathed her last on January 20 at a Patna hospital. The horrific incident is one more stigma on the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)-BJP government, which wallows in gimmicks and trickery.
After dumping the D Bandyopadhyay report regarding land reform, the Nitish government has tried to befool the poorest people of Bihar by launching “operation Dakhal-Dehani”, which is intended to hand over government, sarvodaya and ceiling lands to those who are entitled to get them. But the entire operation is a nightmare for those who are inhabiting these lands for years together and have braved the attacks of the feudal elements, land mafias and the administration at different stages of movements. Everywhere new claimants have arrived with fake documents and sometimes with the order of the judiciary and are trying their best to evict the genuine inhabitants.
When the news of Brinda Sahni’s death reached the Party headquarters, state secretary Awadhesh Kumar was on his way to Darbhanga. He immediately rushed back and accompanied by Ashok Mishra, Mukul Raj and Manoj Chandravanshi, visited the hospital. In the dead of night, Brinda Sahni’s body reached her village. The entire area was awake to pay last tributes to her.
On January 22, a protest rally was organised at the same spot where Brinda Sahni and Anaro Devi had been attacked. A large number of men and women gathered to lend their voice to the ongoing battle for homes and dignity. The rally was addressed by All India Kisan Sabha president Ashok Dhawale, CPI(M) state secretary Awadhesh Kumar, Party state secretariat member and Kisan Sabha president Lalan Choudhary and the local leaders of the Party.
Dhawale in his frontal attack on the Nitish government, characterised him as the most opportunist element who cannot be trusted. Nitish Kumar constituted land reform commission and when the time for implementation came, he succumbed to the pressures of the landlord lobby and dumped the recommendations. Now his government is hand-in-glove with land mafias who are indulging in criminal activities with impunity. While saluting the courage of Brinda Sahni, Anaro Devi and others, he assured full support of the AIKS till the victory is achieved. Awadhesh Kumar and Lalan Choudhary also assured that the Party and the Kisan Sabha will leave no stone unturned to ensure justice for Brinda Sahni and 316 families inhabiting the lands.