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Bitter Harvest: The Roots of Massacres in Central Bihar

16 Aug 1992

From the time of the killing of 14 dalits at Tiskhora on 19 January 1991, more than 120 persons have been killed in a yearn in about 24 such incidents of agrarian violence against the poorest and most oppressed sections of rural Bihar.

Popularly perceived to be manifestations of a caste war that is rife in this state, or else passed off as instances of atrocities against dalits, these incidents have become part of the mythology of this peculiar entity called rural Bihar. The reality, however, is rooted in the brutal manner in which power is exercised and maintained in rural Bihar, the forms in which such domination is being contested, and the violence of the attempts to crush any challenge to the existing balance of rural power. Battle lines have been drawn. On one side are the private senas, and ranged against them are Marxist-Leninist groups of the region who are leading the labouring poor to assert their right to a better life and livelihood. The government, political parties, the press and media too have become implicated in this conflict. The People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) investigated some of these incidents in the districts of Patna, Jehanabad, and Gaya between 27 March and 3 April 1992. The team visited villages Akuri in Patna, Karamchibigha, Narayanpur, Aikil, Jhitkoria, Parsona, and Dharnai in Jehanabad and, Men, Barsiwan, Bara, Dihura, Tindiha and Narayanpur in Gaya. It met the activists of the organisations active in the region — Lok Sangram Morcha, Indian People's Front and the Jan Suraksha Sang-harsh Manch. The team also interviewed the heads of the civil and police administration at the district level.

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