Monday, July 11, 2011

Brahmeshwar Singh, founder of Ranvir Sena, gets bail

The release of Brahmeshwar Singh 'Mukhiya', founder of the outlawed upper caste militia Ranvir Sena in Bihar, from prison last week brought back the memories of those days when the state's countryside was in the grip of violent clashes.

For 25 years between 1976 and 2001, Bihar had turned into a veritable land of massacres executed either by the feudal forces or by the self-styled champions of the landless poor. Caste armies professing to protect the rights of different groups had sprung up all over and ruled the roost in the areas where the law enforcement agencies feared to tread.

Ranvir Sena emerged as a key player amidst this class and caste struggle in the mid-1990s. Under the leadership of a former village headman from Bhojpur called Brahmeshwar Singh, it initially sought to provide protection to the insecure landlords who were being targeted by the ultra-Left extremists in central Bihar. But its cadres had no qualms in taking up arms to counter their opponents. The Sena masterminded some of the goriest carnages ever seen in Bihar such as Laxmanpur-Bathe, Mianpur and Bathani Tola where its marauders did not even spare pregnant women and children.

According to the police, the Sena was involved in as many as 29 massacres between 1995 and 2000 and remained the most formidable adversary of the ultra- Left extremist groups as well as the state police. It was only with the dramatic arrest of its founder Mukhiya in Patna in 2002 that the Sena lost power on its turf.

His arrest also led to the decline of caste armies in the state.

Brahmeshwar now says that he was not involved in any of the massacres, and it was the police and the administration that had made him an accused in the carnage cases as the alleged mastermind.

But he cannot deny the fact that he was the undisputed leader of the Ranvir Sena at a time when its cadres were involved in some of the worst carnages in the state's history. If he was not part of the Sena's decision to wreak havoc in the villages dominated by the poor, scheduled caste people, then who ordered the armed militia to run amok in the name of his organisation? If somebody else was running the show within his organisation, why did the Sena become rudderless after he was arrested by the Patna police nine years ago? Why didn't anyone from his outfit come up to don his mantle in his absence to take on the Maoists who were expanding their network in Bihar following the decline of the Sena? Brahmeshwar's release from prison on bail has only fuelled speculations that the Sena will try to regain its lost ground in Bihar. He himself has claimed that he will now concentrate on doing social work for the betterment of his people. But there are apprehensions in certain quarters about the possible revival of the Sena in a new avatar.

The chances of that, however, seem remote. Much has changed in Bihar in the past nine years. Caste strife has virtually become a thing of the past.

Bihar has been witnessing a change for the better in recent years with growing awareness among the people from all social strata about the futility of caste struggles. The people's verdict in the last assembly polls has also proved that there is no place for caste armies and private militia like Ranvir Sena in a new Bihar.

Anything that has the potential to impede its inclusive growth will meet with derision from the people of the state. Bihar, after all, cannot afford to retreat into the dark era when it was primarily known for its killing fields. It would be sheer pity and an anachronism of sorts for the development- oriented state if any caste army is allowed to rear its ugly head here once again.

Brahmeshwar Singh took up gun to avenge a failed plea for a light

A frail looking man walked out the Ara jail in Bihar on Friday. Surrounded by some of his friends, betrayed no emotions for a man who has engineered the most brutal chapters of violence in Bihar.

Brahmeshwar Singh alias Mukhiyaji, founder of the outlawed Ranvir Sena and the architect of 29 massacres - in which 277 lower caste farm labourers and poor Muslims were killed - looked a composed man, unrepentant.

The landlord from the Bhojpur district of Bihar raised an armed militia wipe out any resistance whatsoever the feudal lords and counter the spread of the ultra-left extremism. And it started with a cigarette.

A young upper caste youth was assaulted by some scheduled caste men when he asked them for a light.

Singh took it a bit too personally.

Friends of Singh belonging to his Bhumihar caste claim that he organised the members of his community at his native place, Khopira, and the adjoining villages to set up the Ranvir Sena, to avenge the assault.

The next eight years since he founded Ranvir Sena in 1994, Singh remained the most wanted man in Bihar and carried a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head. It was in August 2002 that the elusive mastermind behind the most well organised and brutal private militia was caught following a raid on an Exhibition Road building in central Patna.

Such was the legend about him, that till his arrest very few people knew how he looked like.

In fact, most of them were surprised to find a frail "schoolteacher-like" man in his early fifties in police custody. But then, Singh had always kept a low profile even while his Sena was on the rampage executing one massacre after another in south and central Bihar districts such as Bhojpur, Gaya, Aurangabad, Arwal, Jehanabad and Patna.

People from the scheduled caste and other backward communities were the prime targets but it also did not spare those who were believed to be sympathisers of the Naxal outfits. Singh had initially assumed the leadership of Ranvir Kisan Sangharsh Samiti from Sheo Narain Choudhary, the mukhiya of Belaur village, in 1994.

The outfit had been set up to counter the CPI (ML) Liberation's move to impose an economic blockade on the peasants of Bhojpur district.

But it was Singh who soon turned it into a militant outfit which was named after a former armyman from the area, Ranvir, who had become an icon for those fighting for the rights of the upper castes during the British Raj.

Ranvir Sena continued to take on the ultra-left outfits, which claimed to champion the cause the landless or poor farmers, but with Singh's arrest nine years ago, it ceased to wield the power that it had the area.

Singh, who holds a Political Science post-graduate degree from Patna University, took on the mantle of Mukhiyaji very early in his life. Singh, a prosperous farmer owning 100 bighas of land, two houses and a car, was himself the target Naxal outfits. The rebels used to raid his properties and people close to him claim that it was another reason why Singh took up arms.

After his arrest in Patna, he had said that he did not repent the massacres because they were retaliatory in nature. In fact, he also took pride in the fact that he had not surrendered but had been arrested by the police. After his release on Friday, he said that he had full faith in the judiciary and he had no involvement in any of the massacres.

Brahmeshwar Singh, founder of Ranvir Sena, gets bail in last of the 22 cases

One of the most dreaded criminals in Bihar's history, the man whose name sent a chill down the spine of the poorest of the poor in the state, the landlord who has the blood of 277 persons on his hands, walked a free man on Friday.

Brahmeshwar Singh alias Mukhiyaji, the founder of the dreaded Ranvir Sena, walked out of the Ara jail on Friday to a hero's welcome.

Brahmeshwar Singh alias Mukhiyaji, founder of Ranvir Sena - the most brutal private militia in the state's history, was released from the Ara jail after a local court in Jehanabad district allowed his bail plea.

Singh, who was accused in 22 criminal cases, including massacres involving the killing of 277 persons across the state, got bail after spending nine years in different jails since his dramatic arrest in Patna in 2002.

Singh, in his sixties, was charged with having masterminded all the massacres executed by the Ranvir Sena which he had founded in 1994 to counter the ultraleft organisations. Ara jail officials said Singh was released from jail on Friday morning after Jehanabad judicial magistrate Dipak Kumar granted his plea for bail in an arms Act case - the last case in which his bail plea was pending.

Singh's family members said that he had been acquitted in 16 out of the 22 cases and granted bail in six other cases pending against him. According to police sources, the Ranvir Sena founder now had six cases pending against him, including one case of murder, one of recovery of a mobile phone from his prison cell and three cases under arms Act. Among the various massacres he has allegedly engineered, the Bathani Tola case is still pending.

Singh came out of prison to a hero's welcome with a large number of supporters waiting for him outside the Ara jail. He was garlanded by his slogan- shouting supporters to express their joy.

Singh said he was innocent and not involved in any of the massacres.

"I am innocent and I have full faith in the judiciary," he said.

Singh had been arrested by the Patna police from the Exhibition Road locality of the state capital in August 2002. He was accused of masterminding several massascres that took place in the state between 1995 and 2000, including the Laxmanpur- Bathe carnage in which 58 persons, mostly women and children from the underprivileged sections of society, were killed on December 1, 1997.

Sources said that the prosecution could not prove the charges against Singh for want of evidence.

Several witnesses against Singh also turned hostile during the trial.

In April last year, a Bihar court had sentenced 16 persons to death and awarded life imprisonment to ten others in the Laxmanpur-Bathe case. But Singh, who was one of the accused, escaped punishment as he was declared absconder in spite of the fact that he has been languishing in Ara jail in connection with other cases.

After the investigation, the Jehanadbad police had named Singh as one of the 48 accused in their chargesheet on February 27, 1998, and declared him an absconder. But the prosecution had apparently remained unaware of his arrest in Patna in 2002. As a result, there was no trial against him. In May last year, a court also sentenced three persons to death and 20 others to life imprisonment in connection with the killing of 21 people, mostly children and women, at Bathani Tola in the Bhojpur district of the state 15 years ago. Singh was also among the non-FIR accused, and had been declared an absconder in the case. Singh was remanded in the case on May 6, 2003 but the trial against him could not proceed because the police could not produce the records against him.

On April 19, 2010, the special public prosecutor filed a petition in the court for committing the case against Singh. Reacting to Singh's release on bail, Bihar's deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi blamed the RJD for the growth of the Ranvir Sena and the ultra-left organisations. "The Ranvir Sena grew because of the patronage the organisation received from the erstwhile RJD government," Modi said.

1 comment:

kkunal kashyap said...

APNI JAATI-APNA DHARAM.... jay bhumihar....jay parshuram