Thursday, June 21, 2012

Attack on Dalit Hostel in Ara by Ranveer Sena Goons Exposes Nitish's Secular Posturing

Nitish has been posing as a counterpoint and 'secular' alternative to Narendra Modi...

But the Bihar Govt. and police's attitude to violence by Ranveer Sena supporters in the wake of Brahmeshwar Singh's killing belies this claim.

On 1 june, Brahmeshwar Singh, Ranveer Sena chief, was killed in the early morning. On the same day, the Ranveer Sena supporters, in addition to widespread arson and violence on public property, targeted a dalit hostel (Ambedkar Hostel at Katira, near Veer Kunwar Singh Univ, Ara), set all the ground floor rooms on fire, and looted belongings. Students escaped by jumping out of windows and scaling walls. The miscreants attacked the hostel thrice - (the first time at 6.15 am) - but the police did nothing to stop them or protect the hostel and its residents.

As one news report describes,"despite making several pleas to the Bhojpur district administration officials, no security arrangements have been made for them (dalit students). The hostel has not been renovated either after it was vandalised..."

"Maharaj College student Shabir Kumar, recalling the violent incidents of June 1, told The Telegraph: “The supporters of Brahmeshwar Singh attacked our hostel armed with iron rods, sticks and inflammable substance. They set fire to our property and vandalised our rooms, while shouting anti-Dalit slogans.”

He added: “Though the office of Bhojpur SP (superintendent of police) is just about 500m away from the hostel, no policeman came to our rescue though the troublemakers attacked the hostel thrice.”

AISA and RYA demonstrated at the Bihar Assembly in Patna on 20 June against the attack on the dalit hostels - the protestors were arrested.

Not only were students' rooms and belongings set on fire, there was looting too: students' laptops, computers, bicycles etc were looted.

The Nitish Govt. was prompt to announce Rs 8 lakh as compensation for the gas cylinder accident at Brahmeshwar Singh's shraddha ceremony - but is yet to take any steps to reconstruct the dalit hostels set on fire by Brahmeshwar's supporters; or to compensate students whose belongings including certificates etc were destroyed.

Nitish fiddled like Nero while Ranveer Sena supporters burnt dalit hostels. Police did not respond to SOS by the students even though the hostels were attacked thrice! is this not reminiscent of Gulbarg society and Gujarat 2002?

The 'Ambedkar Hostel' is actually a hostel that needy students had 'occupied'. The earlier hostel where they had been staying was literally falling apart from lack of maintenance - yet the Govt was refusing to allot this new hostel. So students had occupied this hostel themselves. The Govt had not even provided drinking water, beds, electricity. A hand-pump had been installed by students themselves after collecting 'chanda' amongst themselves. These students, mostly from dalit and extremely backward BPL families, used to prepare for BA, MA courses, as well as exams for recruitment of Group 'D' employees. Now, after the attack, most of the 800 students have fled. Around 80, though, have stayed on risking their lives, because they know that if the hostel is vacated, they may lose it forever, since it was never legally allotted to them.

Chintu Kumari, a JNU (MA, CPS, 1st year) student whose brother Sandeep lives in Ambedkar Hostel, accompanied him and other students when they attempted to look for and retrieve documents (that they urgently needed to submit for admissions to college) on 8 June. She said that initially, police and Govt authorities refused to allow these students to enter the rooms. They eventually wrote applications to the DM, who after noting their names and addresses etc, gave them permission. But, she said, the police and authorities threatened and misbehaved with the students, telling them only 4 students couold enter at a time, and warning them, "If you all get above yourselves, and cross your limits, we will teach you a lesson." Chintu remonstrated, "You didn't say or do anything to those who attacked the hostel - but you're threatening these boys!" They roughly asked her who she was to speak, and she said she was the guardian of her brother Sandeep.

AISA, in successive demonstrations at the Bhojpur DM's office and the Bihar Assembly, and in letters to the Bihar CM and a meeting with the SC/ST Affairs Minister, has been demanding that the hostel be properly rebuilt speedily, and legally allotted to students; students be compensated for the losses they suffered; students be provided with full security, and provided with alternative living and food arrangemens in the interim till the hostel is rebuilt. The DM has estimated the loss suffered at the hostel ridiculously low: a mere Rs 8 lakh; whereas in reality, if one were to calculate the cost of rooms destroyed, TVs, computers, bicycles looted, documents destroyed, a much higer compensation is due, and in fact each individual student ought to be compensated.

We need to expose Nitish's 'secular' posturing and recognise that in fact, behind his facade, Nitish is Bihar's own Narendra Modi!

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