Maoists in Bihar

Middle castes have been       ruling Bihar for quite sometime and yet there is no let up in caste oppression. The judiciary, not to speak of bureaucracy continues to be plagued by caste prejudices, heavily biased against ‘low caste’ people. For the fourth time in succession, Patna High Court had acquitted Ranvir Sena men, belonging  to the private militia of upper caste landlords, held guilty for the massacre of Dalit villagers at Laxman-Bathe and elsewhere, for lack of evidence. The verdict shocked the civil society and extremists as well. Maoists no longer get adverse currency for their activities in Bihar but they, of late, show some resilience because of predominant feudal culture in which dalits have no hope to survive unless they assert. And they are trying to assert through the Maoists.

For one thing Bihar is uniquely placed to serve as a bridge between Maoist movements in Nepal and India. How much does it matter in the ‘flaming field’ of Bihar is a different issue but it is a hard fact of life that the authorities don’t deny.

There has been a sharp rise in security forces casualties in Bihar during 2013, but not a single Naxal cadre has been killed in any counter-intelligence operation for the year. In other words it means naxalites are getting some positive support from masses. Compared to 2012, thirteen security personnel were killed in 2013, while one was killed in the previous year. The number of Naxals arrested this year, has decreased to 174, from 428 last year. Recovery of weapons has dropped to 47 from 151. All this suggests Maoists have succeeded in spreading their areas of influence.

Bihar government has performed poorly on utilisation of development funds, released under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP). Of the IAP funds allotted to Bihar, covering eleven districts mostly under the sway of maoists, almost 33% of funds remained unutilised, whereas Maharashtra and Madya Pradesh utilised 84% and 78%, respectively.

In Bihar, Maoists have undertaken construction of small roads, checking of dams and other development works. In some areas they almost run a parallel administration. Local contractors are being threatened to contribute in the construction project, or provide digging equipments. No doubt complex agrarian and social relationships in Bihar seem to have sustained the Maoist movement despite occasional set-backs. 60% of the Maoist violence has been reported in Gaya, Jamui and Aurangabad districts. Caste, classes and the Maoist movement revolve on issues of deprivation. Maoist leaders in jail aggressively guide the movement, such as ex-politburo member Pramod Mishra in Beur jail in Patna. On 17 October 2013, Maoists blew up a vehicle, killing all its seven upper caste rural occupants in the Aurangabad district.

As for Bihar the Maoist approach to social revolution seems to be showing some symptoms of change. And it is for the better. They are trying to win over the masses not by exhibiting only sheer fire power. It’s not clear whether they are really serious about the famous Maoist dictum—‘serve the people’. But the message of their changed style of action, not solely dependent on bombs and guns, is yet to reach the sensitive section of the society. Unless they take positive steps to reverse the trend of their isolation in urban areas it will be easier for the security establishment and vested interests to defeat their construction work in rural Bihar.

Vol. 46, No. 20, Nov 24 - 30, 2013

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