Protests in Bihar Against Murder of Arjun Manjhi and Eviction of Mahadalits

On the eve of the elections to the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society [PACS] in Bihar, Arjun Manjhi, the brother of Vakil Manjhi who wanted to contest for the post of President of the PACS was murdered in Tekari block by dominant feudal forces. Moreover, the land-owners-criminal gang nexus which orchestrated this murder has also been intimidating and threatening members of the musahar caste in the region for this ‘crime’ of Vakil Manjhi aspiring to contest elections. Following this latest assault on the democratic aspirations of the poor in Bihar, CPI(ML) has spearheaded a state-wide movement against this barbarism, intimidation and feudal violence.

Immediately after the murder, a CPI-ML team visited the Pura village and the Tekari block, where Arjun Manjhi was murdered. The team noted that after the murder and subsequent intimidation, several mahadalit families of the Pura village had fled from the village fearing their lives. The team visited these families who are currently sheltering along with their children in Tekari. Gaya district secretary and state committee member Com. Niranjan Kumar, Tikari block secretary Pulendra Kumar, Akhilesh Paswan, Sadavriksh Manjhi, Ramji Ram, and Rohan Yadav met the victims’ families.

The enquiry team has stated that this attack on the mahadalit musahar caste by feudal forces in Pura village is a desperate attempt to restrain them from participating in the electoral process. Vakil Manjhi of the musahar caste was standing as a Presidential candidate in the PACS elections. The powerful people of the village could not tolerate the fact that a person of the musahar caste was standing for PACS elections. These feudal forces threatened Vakil Manjhi not to stand for the elections but Vakil refused to budge. Subsequently, on the night of 19 September, they attacked the musahar toli. They could not find Vakil Manjhi but they abducted his brother Arjun Manjhi (s/o late Raghunath Manjhi). At 7 am Arjun’s dead body was found. 9 persons have been named as accused in this incident. These people started pressurising the mahadalits to take back the case, but when they refused, the mahadalits were threatened with mass carnage, due to which the entire village has come and camped in the Tekari block. The enquiry team has stated that all the perpetrators are still absconding, and has demanded their immediate arrest.

Meanwhile the CPI-ML gheraoed the Tikari SDO and demanded immediate rehabilitation of the displaced people of the village, a compensation of 10 lakhs plus government employment for the victim’s family, as well as postponement of the PACS elections till the mahadalits are able to feel free of intimidation and participate fully with fear in the entire election process. CPI(ML) organized a state-wide protest throughout Bihar on these issues on 28 September. A ‘Tikari bandh’ was also observed on this date. CPI-ML leaders met and talked with the victim’s family members.

Protest demonstrations were organized in Gaya city and its different blocks. In Masauri (Patna rural) thousands of poor burnt the chief minister’s effigy in protest against this atrocity on mahadalits. Protest demonstrations were also held at Paliganj, Bihata, Maner, Fatuha, and other places. Protest marches were organized at Arwal, Jehanabad, Samastipur, Nawada, Bhojpur, Siwan, and many other places.