Filmmaker Kumud Ranjan traveled to Bathani Tola in the aftermath of Patna HC’s acquital of perpetrators of the brutal massacre of 1996 and interviewed several survivors. On 11 July 1996, the blood-thirsty killers of Ranvir Sena brutally massacred innocent people of Bathani Tola. 12 women and 8 children were murdered in cold blood on that fateful day. The abdomen of a pregnant woman was slit open. A little infant’s tongue was cut off before the tiny tot’s head was chopped off with a sword, another little baby’s fingers were severed from his hand. A new born baby cringing in its mother’s lap was butchered with a sword and their hut set ablaze. A girl in the prime of her youth was raped and her breasts chopped off before she was put to death. Among those injured, two little children lost their fight for life. No one can contradict the fact that such a degree of brutality is unprecedented in the history of independent India.
This wasn’t the only massacre perpetrated by the Ranvir Sena. Their brutal act was repeated several times – in Nagari, Laxmanpur-Bathe, Mianpur, … to name a few. The people killed were mostly Dalits or people from backward castes/adivasis, a majority of them being poor agricultural labourers, and many of them rallied with/supported the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).
The massacres perpetrated by the Ranveer Sena in Bihar were not isolated events, they were episodes of a bloody war that the Sena waged with complete impunity on the oppressed rural poor in Bihar to crush their fight for freedom, dignity and democracy. The Sena had openly and arrogantly declared that the communist movement had no right to exist in Bihar and that the people must not look beyond the feudal order. Yet the self-styled champions of ‘social justice’ or ‘development with justice’ always made common cause with the Sena. Despite the anti-BJP bravado of the RJD and JDU, the policy of appeasement of Ranveer Sena pursued by both Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar made sure that the BJP kept growing in Bihar. And if one ever needed a proof about the organic relationship between the Ranveer Sena and the RSS-BJP, one only needs to remember how BJP leader Giriraj Singh described the Sena supremo after his assassination: he called him the Gandhi of Bihar.
Very recently, after 16-17 years of wait for justice, the Patna high court has acquitted all the mass-murder convicts who were put behind bars by the judgement of lower courts. In Nagari, Bahanitola, Mianpur and Laxmanpur-Bathe! This can only be called a spate of judicial massacres. A pattern is thus emerging, where the self-styled champion of ‘Sushashan’ and ‘Nyay’ is in fact trying to embolden the worst of feudal forces yet again. But, as the survivor pledges at the very end of this documentary, the Dalits are not in a mood to forget, forgive, give up or move on. The battle for justice has been renewed in all its vigour.