Dalit Atrocities Expose the Hollowness of the ‘Social Justice’ Claims of Successive Governments in Bihar

Bihar has been shaken by a series of atrocities against Dalits – atrocities that have exposed the ‘acche din’ and ‘Sushasan’ boasts of BJP and JD(U) respectively. A resurgent BJP in Bihar has emboldened the feudal forces and Ranveer Sena elements, that the JD(U) rule since 2005 had anyway failed to bring to justice.

The Chief Minister of Bihar, Jeetan Ram Majhi, recently expressed his shock that a temple he had visited in Madhubani had been washed after the visit, presumably to ‘purify’ it after the polluting presence of the CM who is from the most oppressed mahadalit caste. If indeed the temple was washed with such a purpose, it is a highly demeaning atrocity against Dalits, and a case must be filed against the temple authorities under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. Some of the CM’s own fellow Ministers have suggested that the CM was misinformed, and perhaps this is why no case has yet been filed against the temple authorities.

Whether the Chief Minister himself was in fact a victim of such an atrocity in this particular case or not, the denial of entry into temples and other humiliating atrocities and organized violence against Dalits continues to be an ugly reality in Bihar. And this raises the unavoidable question – isn’t the persistence and virulence of such atrocities against the most oppressed castes and labouring people, a telling comment on the character of the 25 years of rule by Governments headed by RJD and JD(U)?

Eviction of Dalits in Gaya and Nawada

Even as the Bihar CM waxed eloquent in the London School of Economics about the ‘Bihar Model of Development’ promoted by the JD(U) Government, hundreds of mahadalits of the Pura village in the CM’s own home district Gaya, were forced to flee after the murder of mahadalit Arjun Majhi, to intimidate his brother Vakil Majhi and prevent the latter from filing nominations in the elections for the post of the President to the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society [PACS]. The mahadalits of Pura village, Tikari police station, Gaya, were forced to flee en masse, fearing a massacre by strongmen from the dominant community. The police failed to arrest most of the named accused in Arjun Majhi’s murder, and made no move to arrest those who openly threatened to massacre the mahadalits. What does it say about the JD(U) Government with a mahadalit Chief Minister, when a dalit man’s kin can be killed to punish him for wanting to file nominations for an election, and the dalits in the CM’s own home district continue to face the very real fear of a massacre?

The Bihar Chief Minister called upon the villagers to avenge Arjun Majhi’s murder by voting to elect Majhi’s brother to the PACS post – oblivious to the fact that Majhi’s brother has not been able to file nominations in time due to the intimidation, and the evicted mahadalit villagers lived in terror of a massacre if they dared to vote!

In early September, again, around 150 mahadalit families fled their homes in Nawada district and took shelter in a government school when their houses were ransacked and set on fire by dominant caste villagers. The violence took place after some dominant caste people under the influence encroached into the marriage function of a dalit and began sexually harassing dalit girls, leading to protests by dalits.