Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia



I. Overview

Ruled by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Bihar remained the most lawless state in India. On 6 December 2004, Patna High Court observed that “The situation (crime) appears to have gone beyond control”. Earlier, on 25 November 2004, Patna High Court ordered the Superintendent of Police of Bettiah to appear before the court on 2 December 2004 for allegedly refusing to register the FIR [1] filed by a doctor who received the threats of extortion and kidnapping.

Insecurity of common citizens is all pervasive in Bihar. On the night of 29 March 2004, alleged criminals shot dead Narendra Singh, the Beur Prison Jailor, near Nala Road under Kadam Kuan police station in Patna. [2] On 14 November 2004, unidentified criminals shot dead  Basudeo Prasad, a professor of CM Science College under Lalit Narayan Mithila University of Darbhanga when he was on his way to Sultanganj in Patna to meet his relatives. [3]

In 2004, the TVS Motors withdrew its operation. In the past two years, other business establishments like Maruti Suzuki Ltd, Hero Honda, Yamaha Bajaj, Escorts, Videocon, too have reportedly shifted base from Bihar. Reports of traders, businessmen, government officials and other people getting kidnapped, ransom calls and extortion threats from the criminals patronised by politicians and the underworld are routine. [4]

The violence and killings by the criminals and the armed opposition groups like Ranvir Sena, Peoples War (PW) and Maoists Communist Centre (MCC) in Bihar could be considered at the same level as the violence caused by the armed opposition groups elsewhere in India. Yet, the Central government and Bihar government maintained double standards. The Centre declared the MCC and PW as “terrorist organisations” under section 18 of the Prevention of Terrorist Act, 2002 and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004. However, the Ranvir Sena, private army of the landlords, which has officially been involved in 33 massacre cases claiming over 280 lives, has not been banned. [5] Not surprisingly, on 18 March 2004, Bhumiyar youth in Gaya reportedly announced the formation of yet another private army - Tandav [6] Sena to counter the MCC and PW. [7]

Extreme poverty and discrimination especially in the administration of justice accentuate the violations against the Dalits. Like all things in Bihar, even poverty alleviation programmes targeted for the poorest Dalits only benefit the upper castes. The prosecutions of the culprits for the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre of 1 and 2 December 1997, Shanker Bigha massacre of 25 January 1999 and Narayanpur massacre of 10 February 1999 have been collapsing simply because of the unwillingness of the State to establish accountability.

The Dalit women were extremely vulnerable especially to sexual abuse. In July 2004, the upper castes had cut the hair of Sumitra Devi, a Dalit widow of Jhapha Udan village in Muzaffarpur district, beaten her, stripped her and poured acid on her private parts. [8]

Prison conditions remained inhuman. The conditions of about 55 prisoners lodged in jails at Bhagalpur, Gaya and Muzaffarpur who have been awarded death sentence but not executed, were the most pitiable. [9]

Those who seek to change the status quo are special targets of the criminals. On 24 January 2004, social activists, Sarita Kumari and Mahesh Kant of Institute of Research and Action were killed by the criminals. [10]

In the midst of such lawless situation, human rights violations by Bihar Police are often ignored. In November 2004, 12-year-old Govinda was handcuffed and tied with a big rope by the police personnel of Sri Krishna Puri police station in the heart of capital Patna. [11]

[1] . Bettiah SP Summoned by Patna High Court in Extortion Case, The Patna daily, 26 November 2004

[2] . Beur Prison Jailor Shot Dead by Naxalites in Patna, The Patna Daily, 30 March 2004

[3] . Bihar situation deteriorates, The Statesman, 16 November 2004

[4] . Hordes of firms quitting Bihar, The Pioneer, 29 September 2004

[5] . Voters panic as Ranvir Sena chief joins fray, The Statesman, 24 February 2004

[6] . Tandav means dance of the death.

[7] . Tandav Sena to join dance of death, The Statesman, 21 March 2004

[8] . Dalit woman’s horrible ordeal, The Deccan Herald, 30 July 2004

[9] . SC will hear plea on plight of death row convicts, The Times of India, 1 September 2004

[10] . Lives lost in trying to change lives, The Telegraph, 26 January 2004

[11] . NHRC Probing Handcuffing of a Child in Bihar, The Patna Daily, 26 November 2004