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Ranvir Sena is an upper-caste landlord militia mainly based in Bihar, India. This group was formed by Bhumihar Brahmin landlords, to stop aspirations of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes people by violent means and their organized killings. It carried out actions against Dalits and other members of the scheduled caste community as well as the Naxalites as they have strong support from judiciary and bureaucracy. The Ranvir Sena have been connected to many massacres including Laxmanpur Bathe. It has, on several occasions, been accused of human rights abuses. It is regarded as a terrorist group and classified accordingly by the Government of India. Normally, the group openly claims responsibility for its crimes. The Ranvir Sena has committed violent acts against Naxalite sympathisers and other members of the militant communist party. The Bihar State government banned the Ranvir Sena in July 1995 and since then the Ranvir Sena remains proscribed.
The name Ranvir comes from Ranvir Baba,an iconic local hero of the Bhumihar Brahmin caste and a supposed mythical figure, and Sena is a Hindi word (origin: Sanskrit sena, meaning 'army'). As the legend goes, during the late 19th century, Ranvir Choudhury, a retired military man and a resident of Belaur village in Bhojpur district, protected the rights of the Bhumihar Brahmin, a land-owing upper caste of the State, against the domination of the Rajputs. It is said that, due to the activities of Ranvir Baba, the Bhumihar Brahmins asserted their power in Bhojpur district and established regional supremacy of the Bhumihars. In September 1994 Dharichan Chaudhary of Belaur had founded the Ranvir Sena and its founding and continuing commander is Brahmeshwar Singh of Khopira village.
The sena originated in Bhojpur in 1994 with the avowed aim of wiping out the communist movement led by various Naxalite groups and the Communist Party of India, Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) Liberation in central Bihar.The Indian government considers the group a right-wing extremist group, which serve the needs of wealthy landowners. It was founded in September 1994 in Belaur village of Udwantnagar block, Bhojpur district following the merger of private caste armies like Savarna Liberation Army and the Sunlight Sena. The forerunners to the Ranvir Sena in Bhojpur district were the Brahmarshi Sena and Kuer Sena, Kisan Morcha and Ganga Sena. These groups were smaller in size and operated with a limited area.
Brahmeshwar Singh was killed by unidentified gunmen on 1 June 2012 at Bhojpur (Bihar) while he was on his morning walk. Singh was facing life imprisonment in various massacres but was acquitted and released from jail in April 2012.
A day-long curfew was clamped on the district headquarter town in Bhojpur district as tension escalated following the gunning down of Brahmeshwar Singh. Prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC were also enforced in the district.
They killed 10 workers in Haibaspur on the 23 March 1997. They wrote the name of the organisation in blood on the village well before they left. Most of the people Ranvir Sena killed that night belonged to families allegedly supporting Party Unity, a communist group.
On 11 July 1996, 21 Dalits were slaughtered by the Ranvir Sena in Bathani Tola,Bhojpur in Bihar in 11 July 1996. Among the dead were 11 women, six children and three infants. Ranvir Sena mob killed Women and Children in particular as per the design so as to demolish any future resistance which they foresaw.
On 1 December 1997, they killed 61 Dalits, which includes - 16 children, 27 women and 18 men with guns. The same night,disfigured and shot to death 5 teenage girls. Ranvir Sena said about the killings:
"We kill children because they will grow up to become Naxalites. We kill women because they will give birth to Naxalites."
After, they killed 8 low caste people who had ferried them across the river after the attack.
On 25 January 1999, there was a massacre of 22 dalit men, women and children by Ranvir Sena in the village of Shankarbigha, Jehanabad due to their alleged Naxalite allegiance. There was another massacre two weeks later in the neighbouring village of Narayanpur, where Ranvir Sena killed twelve lower-caste people.
The core group of membership of the Ranvir Sena is formed of Bhumihar Brahmins and other Brahmins. Brahmeshwar Singh alias ‘Mukhiyaji,' chief of the Ranvir Sena, the dreaded private militia of upper caste landowners, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen while he was on a morning walk at Katira Mohalla on 1 June 2012.
Police and politician involvement
Some politicians are members of Ranvir Sena and some policemen have helped them on their raids. For example, in a Ranvir Sena raid in Ekwari, a village in Bihar, in April 1997, policemen opened the doors of Dalit villagers so the Ranvir Sena could go inside instead of protecting the villagers as they were supposed to. Once inside, the Sena members killed 8 Dalits. Chandradev Verma, former member of Janata Dal Member of Parliament for Arrah put legalising the Ranvir Sena as one of his campaign points in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections.
Area of operation
From Bhojpur district where it was formed, over a period of time, the Ranvir Sena spread to Jahanabad, Patna, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Gaya, Bhabhua and Buxar districts. It mobilises the landed gentry in these districts against the People's War Group (PWG), the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and the CPI-ML (Liberation).
The Ranvir Sena is highly organized, has extensive influence among landowners in its areas of operation, and is supposedly well-endowed with financial resources.
Ranvir Sena cadres are militarily better-organised and are better-paid than any of the private armies of the past. The cadres operate mostly underground while their leaders are believed to be living in, on whose head the authorities had placed a reward of half a million Indian rupees, was the Supreme Commander of the Ranvir Sena until he was arrested in Patna on August 29, 2002 to face a large number of criminal cases, which included those related to massacres.
Initial reports said that Shamsher Bahadur Singh was, on 7 September 2002, appointed new chief of the Ranvir Sena. However, according to a report of 25 December 2002, the chief of the Ranvir Sena was Bhuar Thakur until he was arrested with his two associates on December 24, 2002 near Karnol bridge on the Patna-Sasaram road in Charpokhri, Bhojpur.
On 8 July 2011, Brahmeshwar Singh was released on bail after serving 9 years in jail for 17 cases, including those related to Dalit carnages in Bihar, after he was arrested from Patna in 2002. He was earlier granted bail in 16 other cases.
Ranvir Kisan Maha Sangh is the political wing that tried to take part in the 2004 elections. The Ranvir Mahila Sangh, a women's wing, has also been created. Its members too have been trained in arms use. The centre is in Jehanabad.
On 1 June 2012, Ranvir Sena Chief Brahmeshwar Singh was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Bihar’s Ara Town.
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