[Below are testimonies of some of the eyewitnesses and survivors. The testimonies are transcribed from videos shot and shared on YouTube by a team of Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan activists.]
s/o Kallu Rishidev:
We had organised a meeting of Lal Salaam which was going on at around 10 am on 1 January. The criminals were feasting in the nearby fields. In a while they came towards the meeting and encircled the whole tola. They tied me to a pillar along with three other persons. My hands still have the marks of rope which was tied. They started beating us. They shouted, ‘how dare you m…f…s till the land?’ My arm was badly swollen by the lathi blow, and blood was coming out from my mouth after a blinding blow on my face. By then they found our leaders inside the house and started beating them. They told us they are performing their sacrifice, like the ritual sacrifice on the occasion of Dussehera festival.
The police arrived. The beatings continued in front of the police. They did not allow the police to untie us. Then the Daroga of Raniganj told them to stop beating otherwise he’ll take action. We were untied, at around 11 o’clock and made to sit in a tempo which took us first to Bhargama, from there to Araria and later to Purnea for treatment.
The daroga of Raniganj himself saw us tied to the pillar and beaten up but he did not arrest any of the perpetrators who remained at the spot throughout.
The Bhargama daroga was already there. The attackers reminded the Bhargama thana incharge that they paid him five lakh rupees bribe for killing Musahars. The daroga (thana incharge) did not say anything. The daroga said not to kill in front of him but Manoj Rai, son of the master, rushed to kill me with a hoe. The daroga snatched away the hoe then. He said if you kill in front of me how will I explain this?
They beat up Vipin, Shrawan and Ramchandra at a different spot … I know all those who tied us to the pillar and beat up since their birth – Ramu Yadav, Babua Yadav, Nikku Yadav, Manish Yadav, Manoj Rai… They beat us up due to the land dispute.
They dragged away Lal Salaam (comrade Satyanarayan Yadav) in front of me.
w/o Bhavanand Rishidev:
I saw them coming and dragging people from the next door house, they threatened us by pointing a gun. We ran away inside the room where goats are kept. They beat me up, and I watched them beating up other people too. We touched their feet and prayed them not to beat up people. I appealed to the son of Jagdhar many times not to beat us but he used vile abuses against us and said we will not spare anybody.
We have been living here for many generations; our ancestors lived and died on this land. The Yadavs said they will kill our family and demolish the whole musahari. They were searching for diesel to set our hutments on fire.
Kamleshwari Rishidev’s house also is in this neighbourhood. His parents lived and died in this place.
They also beaten up the husband of Khemia Devi (sitting next to her) and took him away. We tried to free him from them. They said this is for the land dispute, leave this place else you all will be killed.
I recognise the attackers very well. Babua, Ramu, Manish, Rajendra, Anmol Yadav. I have worked as a labourer in these people’s houses. Hathkatta Anmol (Anmol One Hand) dragged away my family members.
When they began the attack, some people from the meeting came inside my home to hide. The attackers came here too and caught them from my house. They started beating them. They pierced an arrow in our leader’s body who fell down, then they caught Kamleshwari and dragged them away. The killers included Manish, Ramu, Babua, Manoj, Anmol and Tipan.
They beat up my daughter and tore her clothes. They beat me too, with lathis on my buttocks, on my thighs, and on my legs.
They took away five pieces of jewellery of my daughter, Rs. 10000 cash, a bicycle and many other belongings. My terrified daughter ran away in her badly torn clothes.
s/o Buddhu Rishidev:
We were present here on that day, a meeting was going on. Suddenly people came from that side and started beating. Kamleshwari Rishidev and others were in the meeting and I was standing outside. They shouted catch Kamleshwari, catch Bona Rishidev, catch Bechan Rishidev, we have to kill them all. Then they (outsiders) started holding people and beating them with axes, hoes and lathis. Attackers with guns were standing around and one of them was firing. Tipan Rishidev was with the attackers, identifying people and telling them to catch this person, catch that person. All of us were being beaten up so we started running to save our lives.
They beat up Lal Salaam (comrade Satyanarayan Yadav) at this place, and dragged Kamleshwari from here.
There is a dispute for the land which belongs to us. We have papers (khatiyan) in our names.
They beat us up on earlier occasions too, so we stopped going on our land. This time they came in an organised way and caught us all unawares. At least 200 people armed with lathi, arrows, guns, attacked us. They tied us up at that place… Babulal, Ramu, Manoj Rai, Mrityunjay were leading them.