The police have registered a large number of cases of looting of crops in many areas of Bihar. Local newspapers carry daily reports of some incident or the other under the headline “Naxalite terror”.
The Government reviewed the increasing activities of Naxalites in the districts of Bhagalpur and Tirhut divisions and decided to post additional police force in these areas.
In Bihar several groups of Naxalites are active. Three important groups are: CPI (Marxist-Leninist), which accepts Charu Mazumdar’s version of Maoism, Prithviraj Singh’s group, which is attracted to T Nagi Reddy, and BK Azad’s group in Khagaria, which declares even the CPI (ML) as “neo-revisionist.”
Prithviraj Singh’s group is not affiliated to Nagi Reddy Revolutionary Coordination Committee. It is active only in Gaya and Dhanbad districts, though some of its supporters can be traced in Naugachia and Bihpur of Bhagalpur also.
CPI (ML) is more active in Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Saharsa, Purnea, Munger, Barauni, Champaran and Ranchi.
BK Azad’s group has only local influence; it works in Munger district, especially in Khagaria.
The extremist movement enjoys the support of an influential section of the leaders who have left the CPI(M). They are particularly active in the rural areas of northern Bihar and in areas bordering Nepal.
As far as the Government machinery is concerned it is trying hard to curb the activities of Naxalites. About 500 persons have been arrested till now. According to Indian Penal Code, Naxalites cannot be arrested for putting up posters. But the Government has given special order to arrest such persons under section 190.
The authorities have so far failed to crush them. The roots of extremism go very deep. It feeds on centuries old feudal exploitation. It is clear to any observer that the Naxalites are stronger in areas where the struggle for land is taking place – that is Muzaffarpur, Purnea and Champaran.
Mushahari, the most troubled area
Mushahari in Muzaffarpur district is the most troubled spot in Bihar. It has its own story. In April 1968, the peasants of Gangapur, seven miles from Muzaffarpur, seized some land.
At this the landlord of Narsingpur organised an attack on the share-croppers with a big gang 300 persons armed with lathis, spears, swords, daggers and firearms. The landlord himself came on an elephant along with two cart-loads of stones. After a battle that lasted for about four hours, the landlord’s men had to flee.
A police camp was soon established in the area and several cases were instituted against the share-croppers. Then the landlord returned. With the help of the police his ‘private army’ ejected share-croppers from the land they were tilling.
Enmity did not end. Peasant guerrillas took their revenge in July this year when they raided the house of the landlord, shot him dead and seized in property. Two other persons were killed and 12 injured in this raid.
About 40 arrests have been made till now in this connection. The police have also raided 600 houses of peasants under different police stations following directives given by a high-level conference called by TP Singh, Advisor to the Governor to “maintain law and order”.
A type of Srikakulam-operation is obviously under progress. Innocent persons are mercilessly beaten up in police custody while the Naxalites have fled to Patna.
In August last year the peasants of Harkesh village, in the same Mushahari block, seized some land. Soon the landlord brought out a detachment of armed police under an officer, who arrested and tortured a peasant. As soon as this news gathered a large number of peasants from that area gathered and got the arrested peasant released by force.
A police camp under a DSP had been established in the area with a provision for regular patrolling by the armed police in the interior villages. A number of persons, including women, were arrested. A price of Rs 1,000 was put on J. Tiwari, the Naxalite leader of Dewaria village. Tiwari was arrested in September this year.
Peasants of Champaran
In April this year, the landless and poor peasants of Paru sub-division in Champaran district, influenced by neighbouring Mushahari, forcibly harvested the crops on 14 acres of land belonging to a landlord.
The landlords organised themselves and retaliated by carrying 0ut an attack with gun and other lethal weapons. One of the landlord’s men was killed and several others injured. The police arrested more than 20 landless peasants.
The Naxalites attacked a landlord-cum-moneylender in Paharchak village under Baruraj police station of Muzaffarpur district in June. They murdered the landlord and his two accomplices, seized all his legal deeds and documents concerning land and confiscated the ornaments pawned by the poor.
Hundreds of peasants gathered in the village after the raid. The guerrillas set on fire the land deeds and land documents and took steps to return the ornaments to their old owners. No wonder, the police is not getting any help from the masses in tracing the Naxalites.
A Naxalite leader said the peasants’ action committees serve as an organ of people’s political power while the village defence groups carry on the administrative work of the “free” villages. The most important groups are the Guerrilla Squads which as the base for committees, groups and people’s court.
The aim of the Guerrilla Squads is (1) to annihilate the landlords and their lackeys (2) to seize forcibly the property of the rich people and (3) to establish people’s rule in villages.
(To be continued)
Excerpts from Patriot, 11 October 1969. Published in two parts, second part was published on 14 October 1969