By Soroor Ahmed (NVONews.Com)
“What’s in a name?” asked Juliet in entirely different context in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But there is certainly something in the name, Ranvir, in Nitish Kumar’s Bihar.
First it was the killing of Ranvir Sena chief, Brahmeshwar Singh alias Mukhiyaji, on June 1 last, which sparked off large scale violence in Ara, the town where he was killed, and on subsequent day in Patna. The state administration remained a mute spectator as the funeral procession, which marched to Patna on June 2, went on rampage targeting private and public property throughout 70 km long route. The supporters of outlawed Ranvir Sena, most of them obviously upper caste Bhumihars, attacked several ruling BJP and Janata Dal (United) leaders of Bihar––even if they belong to the same caste––as they held the Nitish Kumar government responsible for the killing of Mukhiyaji.
The accusing finger was firmly pointed towards the infamous Janata Dal (United) MLA, Sunil Pandey, a former Sena man himself. Ranvir Sena was responsible for several massacres of Dalits in 1990s and was banned after the Bathani Tola carnage of July 11, 1996 in which 21 downtrodden people were killed.
On June 1-2 the Nitish government chose not to use force to calm down the violent Sena protestors as it did not want to antagonise the landed upper caste, whose support is very crucial for the survival of the government. The chief minister later defended his government’s inaction and the state DGP, Abhayanand, did the same in a security related conference in New Delhi only a few weeks back.
As if that was not enough, four months later on Septemeber 27 the name, Ranvir, came to haunt the Nitish government in even more cruder way in Khagaria. Former Independent MLA and Janata Dal (United) strongman, Ranvir Yadav, snatched a sten gun from a police constable, brandished it before the mob and even opened fire in the air to terrorise it. Later the state chief minister, before whom the mob was protesting, publicly complimented Ranvir Yadav and his MLA wife Poonam Devi for making the public meeting possible. What Nitish Kumar said from the stage was seen and heard all over as the television channels highlighted it for a couple of days.
The footages shocked both Nitish Kumar-baiters and Nitish-lovers. The former never expected him to go so low and defend the illegal act of Ranvir Yadav, the man convicted in Taufir Diara massacre case of 1985. His admirers were taken by complete surprise, as over the years, the media has projected him as a very different Nitish––not the one who was a trusted lieutenant of Lalu Yadav till 1994.
What is strange is that even for the name sake no case was lodged against Ranvir Yadav in Khagaria nor against Ranvir Sena men, who ransacked, destroyed and plundered public and private property in Ara and Patna to ventilate their anger.
In contrast hundreds of men and women, including poorly paid or unpaid para-teachers, were arrested in Khagaria because they protested before the chief minister to press their demands. Not only that they showed black flags, threw chappals, eggs and even stones on his cavalcade. But Khagaria was not the only place where the mob strongly protested against Nitish Kumar. In more than half a dozen places where he went in his Adhikar Yatra to press for the special status category, he faced hostile crowd, not only of teachers but of different section of the society. The only difference is that unlike Khagaria, there was no Ranvir Yadav, who was giving company to the chief minister.
Afraid of black flags shown by protestors the Nitish administration banned all men and women wearing anything black––or even carrying umbrella––from entering any public meeting of the chief minister. In Nawada on Oct 9 the administration crossed all the limits. Women and young girls with black dupatta and burqa were not allowed to enter the CM’s meeting. Only those who took off their black clothes were allowed to enter.
By being soft towards Ranvir Sena and by openly siding with Ranvir Yadav the Bihar chief minister paved the way for the growth of some more Ranvirs in the future.
So thus exactly a month after the gun-totting Ranvir Yadav was publicly defended by Nitish in Khagaria, on Oct 26 one of the former MLAs of Janata Dal (United), Munna Shukla, now convicted in a murder case, rang up the director of a college from Muzaffarpur jail to demand Rs two crore for the CM’s November 4 Adhikar Rally. Like Ranvir Yadav, this guy Munna is the husband of JD(U) MLA, Annu Shukla and is a notorious ganglord belonging to Bhumihar caste. How can Nitish Kumar take action against him, if he publicly defended Ranvir Yadav?