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Ground Report: Bihar government’s cruelty streak against the Musahar community

In Junaidpur panchayat of Gauspur area at outskirts of Begusarai city, the administration bulldozed the whole colony of Musahars community.

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Bihar government's cruelty streak against the Musahar community

Nitish Kumar as chief minister of Bihar has posed himself as “Saviour” for the Musahar community, has chest-thumped and boasted about new schemes to emancipate the Mahadalit community (Musahar community). But the antithetical stand of Nitish Kumar’s politics in name of uplifting state’s most backward community on the ground is a farce. The politics and policies are just like a “Bubble” for the traditional rat catchers.

In 2007-08, Bihar government sanctioned a special project worth crores for a period of three years. The project included various schemes for the social, economic, infrastructure development. One of the major decisions among them was to appoint “Vikas Mitra” a person at the Panchayat/Ward level to act as a bridge between Mahadalits and the government functionaries. But this particular stand of the government seems to be mutilated and vindictive when the government and its administration itself became the prime entities in destroying residential locality of Musahars.

In Junaidpur panchayat of Gauspur area at outskirts of Begusarai city, the administration bulldozed the whole colony of Musahars community. “Ghar ujaad diye hain- Police, BDO, Mukhiya Sarpanch, sab aakar. Our houses were destroyed by the police in presence of BDO, Mukhiya and Sarpanch. This destruction led by the administration took place on 25th August 2018 left 300 hundred Musahars, shelterless, in one go. There was no intimation from any government official on vacating the land which was our habitat for five decades. A day prior, all of them assured us providing an alternate rehabilitation but this was not done.” said Rani Devi, one among the victims of homeless Musahars.

The land on which the Musahars resided, was a private property. The owner of the land had filed a case of land encroachment against the community. The verdict of the high court went in favour of the owner with an order to the administration to make the land vacant. With all due respect to the verdict of the high court, the encroachment was to be dealt with all firmness but the administration did follow the path of destruction with no mercy for the marginalized section of society. Without any rehabilitation and compensation program, how did the government demolished shelters of suffering people?  But fortunately, the leaders of All India Student’s Federation (AISF) the student wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI) came to rescue the shelter less and homeless population of 300 Musahars by rebuilding their houses with high grade-plastic cover and by providing food to each distressed individualevery dayy. This sane and compassionate gesture should have been the response of the government and administration but sadly this did not happen. The same demonic move by the government was witnessed in Mogala village in Madhubani district couple of months back, where houses of 100 families belonging to Musahar community were demolished by the government authorities. There also the demand was for alternate housing and adequate compensation.

Any justification from government’s side on the action taken against musahars at outskirts of Begusarai city or anywhere else is not acceptable where in name of welfare state it uproots and deprives the last standing person from right to proper rehabilitation and adequate compensation. Where did the concept of “Vikas Mitra” vanish when it came to tackle a sensitive issue which involved the musahar community? Even, article 21 of the Indian Constitution stands by the dignity to life and says, the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, namely, the bare necessities of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing, and shelter over the head.” This humiliation against musahars exposes the unholy nexus between the state and the non-state agents (big feudal landlords, mafias) who enjoy impunity. It also brought into focus the discriminatory practices by the state, structured violence against the marginalised community and prevalence of ‘mind of caste’ in the social and institutional structure. Instead of being fair, just and reasonable, Nitish Kumar’s “Susashan” is proving itself to be arbitrary, merciless and oppressive for one of the most poor and suffering section of society.

Saurav Kumar is an education activist, he tweets at @SauravK1890

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