The Bihar government’s reputation for ‘good governance’ received a major blow on Saturday when a motley group of 5,000-odd supporters of Ranveer Sena founder Brahmeshwar Singh indulged in vandalism, loot and arson.
The rampaging mob, accompanying the funeral procession of Brahmeshwar Singh from Ara to Patna, torched nearly 50 vehicles, attacked 14 journalists and scores of policemen besides roughing up innocent on-lookers in the heart of the state capital.
Throughout the vandalism, the Patna police remained a mute spectator, with majority of them running for cover when the angry supporters of Brahmeshwar Singh went berserk. Senior police officers said they had instructions from the “top” not to use force in the surcharged atmosphere in order to avoid escalation of violence.
The irate crowd, before reaching the cremation ground at Baans Ghat in Patna, burnt police pickets, jeeps, cars, vans, buses, overturned milk carrying vehicle and damaged a pulse-polio van apart from forcing closure of several ATMs and business establishments.
For five hours (from 1 pm to 6 pm), there was an undeclared curfew in the state capital with the unbridled Sena men having a field day. Incidentally, all this happened when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Patna District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh were out of town. While Nitish was in Bhagalpur for Sewa Yatra, Modi was out of Bihar. The DM is also reported to be on leave.
“Most of the youth who indulged in vandalism and arson, are ardent supporters of Ranveer Sena (a banned outfit of militant upper caste Bhumihars). Had we got instructions, we would have tamed them in no time. But surprisingly, our hands were tied today,” said a senior cop on duty, refusing to be identified.
Most of the residents, out of fear, remained indoors, when the cavalcade from Ara was passing through Patna. But many questions remain unanswered. It is perplexing that why Nitish was not in the state capital when there were apprehensions of violence ever since Brahmeshwar was shot dead on Friday and also police top brass and other senior government officials’ inaction against marauders. And this also remains unanswered that who will compensate for the damage caused to private vehicles and government property.
Meanwhile, Bihar DGP Abhayanand, in the evening, convened an emergency meeting of top police officials and issued instructions to book all those who went berserk earlier in the day. “Video footage will be used to identify the culprits,” said the DGP.
The Ranveer Sena and CPI-ML have been at loggerheads since forever. The former represents the Bhumihars, generally upper caste landlords, and was led by Brahmeshwar Singh, a Rajput, while the CPI-ML was fighting for the rights of the predominantly lower caste and Dalit ensemble of landless labourers, ironically led by Dipankar Bhattacharya, a Brahmin.
After years of struggle, the Ranveer Sena seemed to have bees losing more than it was winning, but this trend happened after CPI-ML tied up with MCC, or the Maoist Communist Centre. Many members of these groups are today suspected to be deeply involved with the current Maoist insurgency, while some are participating in the Parliamentary process. The same goes for Ranveer Sena affiliates, with strong links in the government.
With the ouster of the Laloo Yadav and allied Bihar politicians, it is time for Nitish Kumar to fill the power void left behind, so that the administration can function, without either of these two competing groups becoming too much of a headache. Nitish Kumar has done a stellar job so far - yet, a lot needs to be done. Sadly, given the way politics functions in this country, one cannot be too hopeful.
Bihar continued to burn for the third consecutive day on Sunday when lumpen elements indulged in vandalism in several parts of Central Bihar, protesting the killing of Ranveer Sena founder Brahmeshwar Singh.
Anguished over the unabated violence, Governor Devanand Konwar has sought a report from the Bihar government on the issue. The Opposition, too, stepped up its attack on Nitish regime and demanded immediate imposition of President’s rule as “there is no government worth the name in the state, and a motley group of marauders is holding entire Bihar to ransom.”
Angry supporters of Brahmeshwar on Sunday enforced bandh in Jehanabad and Arwal while blocking national highways at Barh, Lakhisarai and Muzaffarpur. Train movement on the Patna-Gaya route was also affected as the protesters blocked the tracks for several hours. The paramilitary police had to lathicharge the agitationists when they forced traders to shut down shops and business establishments at several places.
With no let-up in arson and violence, Congress party on Sunday sought immediate Central intervention to bring the situation under control. “The chief minister, who is in Kishanganj, has refused to react to this ugly situation, which is now getting out of control. The continuous violence makes it a fit case for imposition of President’s rule,” said Bihar Congress President Mehboob Ali Kaisar.
Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan also slammed Nitish in uncertain terms. “When Bihar was burning, neither the CM nor the DM nor the DGP could be seen. If Nitish can’t govern, he should pack his bags,” said Paswan. He was supported by RJD chief Lalu Prasad who said that Nitish was behind the entire unsavoury incident. “I am collecting evidence. I will blow the lid off soon,” said Lalu.
Nitish on Sunday refused to make any comment on the arson and violence unleashed by supporters of Ranveer Sena. Bihar DGP Abhayanand, however, clarified that “under the given situation, we had no option other than to exercise restraint. Or else, the situation could have turned from bad to worse.” The police have, meanwhile, registered FIRs against 15 named and 400 unnamed accused at different police stations between Ara and Patna.
It's during Laloo's days when Ranvir Sena continued their killings...Now he is blaming Nitish Kumar for the ugly situation......it is nothing in comparison to those days when we had to see a row of dead bodies (mainly women and children) very often....