Flare-up at a funeral & a dying politics

Violence during funeral of Ranvir Sena chief is nothing but the swansong of a perverse political order in Bihar


Ajay Singh | June 4, 2012

Written words seldom communicate the force of authority. Visuals do. One such had demolished the myth about a caste Robinhood in Bihar in not so distant past. Exuding an aura of invincibility, impudence and spurious machismo, Anand Mohan Singh had created a ruckus and terrorised a police party accompanying him to jail in 2005-06. No one seemed to know what to do — other than an irrepressible young officer, Kundan Krishan, who delivered a tight slap on a stunned face of the gangster-turned-politician. His bluff called and myth belied, the cult of Anand Mohan became history. 

The morale of the story: it required the courage of one young officer to restore the majesty of the state and call the bluff of social bullies. The events in Patna on June 2 when the state abdicated its responsibility and allowed criminals to run riot indicate the dearth of officers with grit and courage. The burning of vehicles in the streets of Patna and pushing around of the state’s senior most police officer (the DGP) by hooligans in Arrah have substantially frittered away the gains of Bihar for the last seven years.

By all account, Brahmeshwar Prasad Singh alias Mukhiaji was a rank criminal who outlived his utility in the emerging politics of Bihar. For the past seven years or so, Arrah was at peace with itself despite the fact that the place has a history of caste hostilities and clashes between the radical left and private upper caste armies. The obvious reason for this change was the prevalence of an atmosphere of peace and development projects initiated by the state government. The heavy dose of welfare schemes under MNREGS and other programmes have also helped reduce social tension.

In such a scenario, the existence of Ranvir Sena in the region was more myth than reality. But myths however docile often carry destructive potential. The Patna high court’s exoneration of certain Ranvir Sena activists in the Bathani Tola massacre of dalits helped revive that nearly-extinct myth and came in handy for unscrupulous politics to stoke the flames of social conflicts. A bullet-ridden body of Brahmeshwar Prasad Singh, feared in the past as the ruthless executioner of a perverse political and social order in Bihar, proved to be a readymade text for those hell-bent to push the state to backwaters and anarchy.

A sinister pattern is clearly discernible in the manner in which the violence was unleashed in the streets of Patna on a day when the state won laurels for its robust economic growth of over 13 percent. This was not an exceptional feat, but no mean either for a state rejected as a “basket case” not long ago. And it would be equally naïve to think that the trickle-down effect of the robust growth has not benefited the lower-rung of the society. On other hand, there are signs that Bihar is passing through the process of giving birth to a new social and political order. That the transition would be peaceful, bloodless and democratic would be anathema to adherents of the old and perverse social order.

This is the precise reason why a living Brahmeshwar Prasad Singh was a political liability while his body is deemed as an asset for those who still thrive on primordial loyalties. Is this not ironical that the funeral of a man accused of ghastly massacres turned out to be a show of strength of a caste? The presence of leaders like CP Thakur and their humiliation is a telltale sign of a political timidity that clings to the worst kind of depravity for self-preservation. The fact that the funeral of a man accused of mass murder is used for politics shows a desperate attempt by the perverse political order to retain its relevance in the state.

They seem to have partially succeeded in creating the impression that the peace in Bihar is fragile and tenuous. If one murder could render the state ineffectual in containing violence in streets of the state capital, it exposes the vulnerabilities of good governance and law and order machinery. There is no doubt that visuals of burning cars and lawlessness would help strengthen such perceptions. But this is not the whole truth. An effective administration run by some courageous officials would have effectively nipped the myth of social bullies merely by delivering a tight slap as one official did with Anand Mohan. The rest would have been history. There is hardly any doubt that Bihar is poised for a major transition which cannot be stopped by conspiracies and intrigues.



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