Ranvir Sena

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Ranvir Sena
Participant in Naxalite–Maoist insurgency
Active1994–present
LeadersBrahmeshwar Singh
HeadquartersBhojpur district, Bihar
AlliesKuer Sena

The Ranvir Sena is a caste based militia functioning as an upper caste landlord group,[1] mainly based in the state of Bihar in eastern India and some parts of north India.[2] The group was formed by upper-caste landlords[3] in 1994, with the aim to counter the influence of various left-wing militants, Naxalite groups and the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation in central Bihar.[4] The Ranvir Sena has been connected to a number of massacres including the massacre at Laxmanpur Bathe.[5] It has, on several occasions, been accused of human rights abuses.[6] The group has frequently publicly claimed responsibility for its crimes with impunity.[5] The Bihar state government banned the Ranvir Sena in July 1995 and since then the group has been proscribed.

History[edit]

According to Professor Ashwani Kumar, the "origin of the Ranvir Sena is shrouded in mystery... [but] it is fair to assume that the Bhumihars in Belaur village in Bhojpur district" in 1984.[7] The name Ranvir comes from Ranvir Baba, an iconic local hero of the Bhumihar caste and a supposed mythical figure, and Sena is a Hindi word 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, a land-owing upper caste of the State, against the domination of the Rajputs. Due to the activities of Ranvir Baba, the Bhumihars asserted their power in Bhojpur district and established regional supremacy of the Bhumihars.[8]:129

Rang Bahadur Singh was the first president of Ranvir Sena.[9][failed verification] He came from Ichari village, Jagdishpur, Bihar.[10] Brahmeshwar Singh of Khopira became the group's leader a few months after it was formed.[11]

Brahmeshwar Singh was killed by unidentified gunmen on 1 June 2012 while on his morning walk in the Bhojpur district headquarters of Ara. He was facing life imprisonment for coordinating various massacres but was acquitted and released from jail in April 2012.[12] A day-long curfew was clamped on Ara as tension escalated following his murder. Prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC were also enforced in the district.[13]

Police and politician involvement[edit]

Some politicians are members of Ranvir Sena and some policemen have helped them on their raids.[14] 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. Chandradeo Prasad Verma, former member of Janata Dal and Member of Parliament for Arrah, put legalising the Ranvir Sena as one of his campaign points in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections.[15]

In 2015, in a media sting operation, evidence came to light that BJP leaders, including Murli Manohar Joshi and C. P. Thakur and the former PM Chandra Shekhar were complicit in the Bihar Dalit massacres committed by the Ranvir Sena[1] while the governments of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi declined to order investigations into the massacres despite knowledge of them.[16]

Mass killings[edit]

On 11 July 1996, 21 Dalits were slaughtered by the Ranvir Sena in Bathani Tola, Bhojpur district. Among the dead were 11 women, six children and three infants. The perpetrators targeted women and children in particular, so as to deter any future resistance. Three people were sentenced to death and 20 sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for participating in the massacre, but the Patna High Court acquitted all 23 in April 2012.[17][18]

We kill children because they will grow up to become Naxalites. We kill women because they will give birth to Naxalites.

— Ranvir Sena member, in a 21 February 1998 interview with Human Rights Watch[19]

Ranvir Sena 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.[5][20]

On 1 December 1997, sena members killed 63 Dalits–16 children, 27 women and 18 men–using guns in Laxmanpur-Bathe.[21] The dead included 5 teenage girls who had been raped and mutilated before being shot, and 8 people from the Mallah community who had ferried Ranvir Sena members across the Son River before and after the attack.[5][19]

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. Another massacre followed two weeks later in the neighboring village of Narayanpur, where Ranvir Sena killed twelve villagers belonging to the Chamar community.[22]

Caste-based violence in southwest Bihar, 1996–2000[23]
Year Description Trial
1996
  • Nadhi (Bhojpur): 8 killed in CPI(ML) attack on upper castes/landlords
  • Nadhi (Bhojpur): 9 killed in attack by upper castes on SCs
  • Bathanitola (Bhojpur): 22 Dalits killed by landlords, the worst of that year’s many attacks
1997
  • Raghopur (Patna): 6 Bhumihars killed by CPI(ML)
  • Haibaspur (Patna): 10 SCs killed by landlords
  • Ekwari (Bhojpur): 10 SCs killed by upper castes
  • Khadasin (Jehanabad): 8 SCs killed by landlords
  • Lakshmanpur-Bathe (Jehahanabad): 61 Dalits killed in attack by upper castes
  • Chauram (Jehanabad): 9 members of upper castes killed in CPI(ML-Liberation) attack
1998
  • Nagri (Bhojpur): 10 SCs killed by landlords
1999
  • Shankarbigha (Jehanabad): 23 SCs killed by upper castes
  • Narayanpur (Jehanabad): 11 SCs killed by upper castes
  • Usri Bazar (Jehanabad): 7 upper caste members killed in attack by CPI(ML-Liberation)
  • Senari (Jehanabad): 35 killed in attack on landlords, first strong sign of MCC gaining strength
  • Sendani (Gaya): 12 SCs killed by landlords
2000
  • Afsar (Nawada): 12 upper caste members killed in attack by OBCs
  • Mianpur (Aurangabad): 35 OBCs/SCs killed, the last major attack involving the Ranvir Sena before it went into the background

Organisation[edit]

The Ranvir Sena is highly organized, has extensive influence among landowners in its areas of operation, and is supposedly well-endowed with financial resources.[4] 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 towns.

Brahmeshwar Singh 'Mukhiya', the founder chief of the Ranvir Sena, 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 29 August 2002 to face a large number of criminal cases, which included those related to massacres.[24]

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.[25]

Rashtravadi Kisan Sangathan is the political wing formed 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.[15]

On 8 July 2011, Brahmeshwar Singh was released on bail after serving 9 years in jail awaiting trial for 17 cases, including those related to Dalit carnages in Bihar. He had earlier been granted bail in 16 other cases.[26] On 5 May 2012, Singh floated a non-electoral outfit named Akhil Bharatiya Rashtravadi Kisan Sangathan.[27] However, he was shot dead less than a month later, on 1 June 2012, by unidentified gunmen in the town of Ara.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b बिहार में रणवीर सेना के पूर्व कमांडर धनजी सिंह सहित 3 की गोली मारकर हत्या [3 shot dead in Bihar, including former Ranvir Sena commander Dhanji Singh]. NDTV (in Hindi). 11 October 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  2. ^ Dwivedi, Om Prakash; Rajan, V. G. Julie (2016). Human Rights in Postcolonial India. ISBN 9781317310112.
  3. ^ Sinha, Arvind; Sinha, Indu (2001). "Ranveer Sena and 'Massacre Widows'". Economic and Political Weekly. 36 (43): 4095–4099. JSTOR 4411296.
  4. ^ a b "Ranvir Sena". South Asia Terrorism Portal. Institute for Conflict Management. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Sahay, Gaurang (2008). Naxalism, Caste-Based Militias and Human Security: Lessons From Bihar (PDF). Is this the Asian century? 17th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia. Melbourne: Monash University. pp. 11–12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2011.
  6. ^ "India: Human Rights Developments". World Report 2001. Human Rights Watch. 2001. Archived from the original on 16 November 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  7. ^ Kumar, Ashwani (2008). Community Warriors: State, Peasants and Caste Armies in Bihar. Anthem Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-1-84331-709-8.
  8. ^ Kumar, Ashwani (2008). Community Warriors: State, Peasants, and Caste Armies in Bihar. London, New York: Anthem Press. ISBN 9781843317098.
  9. ^ Mahay, Anand Mohan (5 September 2002). "People will kill Ranvir Sena chief if he is released: Mazdoor Sabha". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 16 January 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  10. ^ रणवीर सेना के बारे में जाने वो सब, जो आप जानना चाहते हैं! [All you want to know about Ranvir Sena!]. Dainik Bhaskar (in Hindi). Archived from the original on 2 June 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  11. ^ Magnier, Mark (2 June 2012). "India upper-caste militia leader Brahmeshwar Singh slain". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 3 November 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Ranvir Sena chief shot dead in Bhojpur". DNA. PTI. 1 June 2012. Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Curfew imposed in Ara Town after killing of Brahmeshwar Singh Mukhiya". Biharprabha News. 1 June 2012. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Slain Ranvir Sena chief's son queers BJP poll pitch". Zee News. IANS. 1 April 2014. Archived from the original on 5 September 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  15. ^ a b Björkert, Suruchi Thapar (September–October 2006). "Women as arm-bearers: Gendered caste-violence and the Indian state". Women's Studies International Forum. 29 (5): 474–488. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2006.07.005.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  16. ^ Suroor, Hasan (28 August 2015). "Partners in crime: How Bihar politicians hushed up a Dalit massacre". Firstpost. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  17. ^ Shoumojit Banerjee (17 April 2012). "All accused in 1996 Bihar Dalit carnage acquitted". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 22 December 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  18. ^ Shoumojit Banerjee (19 April 2012). "For residents of Bathani, it is a horror they cannot forget". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 22 December 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  19. ^ a b Narula, Smita (1 March 1999). "Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's "Untouchables"". Human Rights Watch. sec. I, Summary. Archived from the original on 14 May 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  20. ^ "Main accused of Haibaspur massacre arrested after 17 years". Business Standard. PTI. 8 August 2014. Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  21. ^ "The Jehanabad carnage". Frontline. 13 December 1997. Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  22. ^ Chaudhuri, Kalyan (27 February 1999). "Carnage in Narayanpur". Frontline. Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  23. ^ Singh, Santosh (3 June 2012). "A lasting signature on Bihar's most violent years". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 19 May 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Founder of Ranvir Sena arrested". The Times of India. PTI. 29 August 2002. Archived from the original on 22 December 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  25. ^ "Ranvir Sena chief held". The Hindu. 25 December 2002. Archived from the original on 22 December 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  26. ^ "Ranvir Sena chief released". The Hindu. PTI. 10 July 2011. Archived from the original on 22 December 2019. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  27. ^ "Ranveer Sena chief Bramheshwar Singh's outfit to mobilize farmers". The Times of India. 7 May 2012. Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  28. ^ "Ranvir Sena founder Brahmeshwar Singh shot dead in Bihar". The Times of India. 1 June 2012. Archived from the original on 22 December 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.