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Fascism's Backdoor Tactics

Capitalising on the massacre of 21 Dalits in Narayanpur village on February 13 by the landlord army Ranvir Sena, the Bhartiya Janata Party,BJP, government imposed President's rule in the province of Bihar and dissolved the government of the Chief Minister Mrs. Rabri Devi. Three weeks later, it failed to get the approval of both houses of the Parliament and Rabri Devi has again been sworn as the Chief Minister. The attempt of Samta Party (whose leader is George Fernandes) the closest ally of BJP at the center, to come to power in Bihar through backdoor has once again been foiled.

Within the short period of three weeks of Presidents rule, the BJP had already unleashed a reign of terror. At a demonstration of poor agrarian laborers in Piro of Bhojpur district in Bihar protesting against the imposition of President's rule and the massacre of Dalits, police resorted to brutal 'lathi' charge. According to a story in Liberation of March 1999, demonstrators were told that protests are not allowed under President's rule. Nonetheless, thousands of people responded to a call of protest by the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML). By the end of the day, 5000 CPI(ML) supporters and 200 leaders and activists were injured in police attacks. There was not a single district of Bihar where police did not resort to 'lathi' charge. The president's rule was imposed defying all democratic norms.

The law and order situation in Bihar is the making of successive governments, each of which has pandered to the white terror of landlords and refrained from instituting even minimum of land reforms. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) governments of Laloo Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi have been no exception. Other than offering compensation to survivors, neither of these leaders of RJD have taken any major steps to curtail the lawlessness of landlords and their army, the Ranvir Sena.

Ranvir Sena itself is the armed brigade of the BJP and George Fernandes in Bihar. The ringleader of Ranvir Sena, Barmeshwar Singh, a former member of the Congress, is now an active member of the BJP. Ranvir Sena openly supported BJP and Samata party candidates in 1995 elections to Bihar Assembly and in 1996 and 1998 parliamentary elections. Harendra Singh, the BJP Bhojpur district secretary himself hurled a grenade during Ranvir Sena attack in the district of Ara on peasants protesting massacre of 90 Dalits. BJP leader Janardan Sharma is the chief fundraiser for Ranvir Sena. Since 1994 Ranvir Sena has killed 265 Dalits including 81 women and 43 children.

The practice of destabilizing governments by organizing massacres of Dalits is not new in India. It does not seem far-fetched to conclude that the massacres of Dalits in Bihar are engineered by BJP and its Samata allies to invoke President's rule.

The Indian government has the power and resources to stop such heinous crimes against Dalits. The massacre of Dalits in Bihar, of Christians in Gujrat and Orissa, of Muslims almost everywhere in the country is a reflection of the ascendancy of the forces of revivalism and fundamentalism. Dalits are the most oppressed people of India. The greater is the awakening among Dalits the greater and more brutal is the attack against them. However, to end this requires strengthening of democratic forces and not the dissolution of an elected government.

- Daya Varma


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Last updated: October 30, 2000 .