Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Political Murder of Comrade Budhram Paswan in Bhojpur

In the early hours of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day, 23rd March, 2014, villagers of Repura (in the Ara Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar) found the dead body of Comrade Budhram Paswan, Secretary of the CPIML’s Charpokhri block committee. He had been killed the previous night, as he was returning to the village for a meeting in preparation for the filing of Lok Sabha nominations by CPIML candidate. His body displayed signs of torture, indicating he had been tied up and dragged on the ground, and that assailants had stamped on his chest before shooting him dead. The FIR has named several well known feudal lumpen elements of the neighbouring village, including three men accused in the Ranveer Sena’s 1998 Nagari Bazaar massacre. 

Comrade Budhram was one of the key activists who helped ensure that witnesses withstood feudal terror and intimidation, and testified in court resulting in the conviction of the massacre accused in the Sessions Court in 2010. The conviction was overturned by the Bihar High Court in 2013– part of a series of such verdicts discrediting testimonies of survivors and eyewitnesses, and overturning lower court convictions in Ranveer Sena massacre cases. Comrade Budhram also helped the survivors find courage and determination to appeal against the acquittal in the Supreme Court. On 23rd March, Ranveer Sena supporters celebrated Comrade Budhram’s assassination, gleefully firing shots in the air. Such celebrations underline the fact that the murder is a political one, intended to terrorise CPI(ML) supporters with a show of feudal muscle on the eve of an election in which the CPI(ML) is a strong contender from the Ara seat. 

Comrade Budhram was born in Repura, and was 45 years old at the time of his murder. He is survived by his wife, son and two daughters. He was a graduate, and a dedicated party worker for very long. He was first associated with the Party in the 80’s, and for the last 15 years he had been the CPI(ML) Charpokhri Block secretary and a member of the Bhojpur District Committee. He had led many struggles on the issues of land struggles for the poor and landless, sharecroppers’ and farmers’ struggles, fair wages, MNREGA, prohibition, electricity, and other issues. 
Ideologues of the Bihar Chief Minister have liked to claim that feudal violence is a thing of the past in today’s Bihar thanks to the ‘sushasan’ (good governance) provided in the past nine years. Is this true? In the 80s, the feudal forces who unleashed terror to stop dalits from casting their vote had to contend with successful struggles by oppressed and landless poor under the banner of CPI(ML), to actually avail of their right to vote. The same forces, faced with CPI(ML) victories in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats in Bhojpur in the late 80s and early 90s, formed the Ranveer Sena and conducted a spate of massacres with the express purpose of terrorising the poor and checking their social and political assertion. And now, their strategy is to eliminate leaders and cadres, like the CPI(ML)’s Rohtas Secretary Bhaiyyaram Yadav in 2012 and Budhram Paswan in 2014. On Independence Day last year, the dalits of Baddi were subjected to organised feudal violence that claimed a life, injured several and destroyed a temple of the poet-saint Ravidas revered by the dalits.

The news of Com. Budhram Paswan’s murder which came in the morning sparked off great anger among the poor, the workers, and peasants. Angry activists blocked the roads in Nanaur (Agiaon), Akhgaon (Koilvar), Andhari (Sahar), Hasvadih (Piro), Jethwar and Fatehpur (Tarari), Dasarhi and Nayka Tola (Jagdishpur), Sandesh Bazar (Sandesh Block), and many other places. 

At Ara, students, youth, and cultural activists cancelled the scheduled seminar on the occasion of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom and took out a protest march against the killing of Com. Paswan. During the march Janmat Editor Sudhir Suman and AISA State secretary Ajit Kushwaha garlanded the statue of Bhagat Singh and said that Com. Paswan sacrificed his life upholding the legacy of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. At Gopali Chowk the protest march took the form of a meeting which was addressed by Dilraj Pritam, Qayamuddin and Sudhir Suman. The speakers said that Comrade Budhram carried forward the tradition of fighting for true democracy established by Comrades Jagdish Master, Rameshwar Ahir and Ramnaresh Ram. Just as in the 70s and 80s the ruling class could not suppress the fight for rights in spite of killing people’s leaders, so also the killers of Com. Paswan will not achieve their unholy ends through this dastardly murder.  

CPI(ML) State Committee member Sudama Prasad, former MLAs Chandradeep Singh and Arun Singh, RYA Vice President Aslam, CPI-ML District secretary Jawaharlal Singh, Party candidate Raju Yadav, AIALA leader Kamta Prasad Singh, Raghuvar Prasad and Bindeshwari Ji visited the site of the incident and met the grieving family members of Com. Paswan, after which the body of Com. Budhram Paswan was brought to CPI-ML District office, Ara. The funeral procession took place on 24th March. All over the country, while commemorating Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day on 23rd March, CPI(ML) members also paid tribute to Comrade Budhram Paswan.

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