Bihar had been infamous for being the most lawless state in India. There was little improvement of the security situation after Janata Dal United and Bharatiya Janata Party coalition took over power in capital Patna.
The vulnerable groups i.e. the Dalits, the lower caste Hindus continued to be deprived of their rights. The Dalit women remained extremely vulnerable to the violence perpetrated by the upper caste Hindus. Extreme poverty and atrocities against the Dalits had been spreading the Maoists conflict in the State. On 5 January 2005, the Munger Superintendent of Police, K.C. Surendrababu, and six other police personnel were killed in a Maoist-triggered landmine blast at Lakshmipur village in Jammui district while returning from a joint operation against the Maoists.
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 continued to maintain double standards. While the Centre had 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, the Ranvir Sena, private army of the landlords, which was allegedly involved in 33 massacre cases claiming over 280 lives, was never banned.
Prison conditions remained deplorable. As of April 2005, Bihar had over 38,000 prisoners against the capacity of 21,750 prisoners. Overcrowding caused food and lodging problems. The conditions of about 55 prisoners lodged in jails at Bhagalpur, Gaya and Muzaffarpur who had been awarded death sentence but not executed, remained most inhuman.
Children continued to be victims of atrocities by the security forces. On 3 November 2005, a police officer, Kishore Yadav of Meskaur police station shot dead a 16-year-old boy Pawan Kumar during a raid at Bijubigha village in Nawada district.
The security forces, mainly the Bihar Police, were responsible for gross violations of human rights including arbitrary deprivation of the right to life.
The National Human Rights Commission of India registered 153 cases of custodial deaths – 3 deaths in police custody and 150 deaths in judicial custody – during 2004-2005.
Bihar Police continued to resort to indiscriminate use of fire-arms. On 16 August 2005, three persons identified as Sudhir, Shailesh, and Rajneesh were killed and several others injured in police firing allegedly without warning at a mob in Maharajganj in Siwan district. They were protesting the tragic death of a schoolboy who was crushed by a private bus early in the morning of the same day.
On 26 October 2005, a Border Security Force (BSF) personnel on election duty shot dead 25-year-old Santosh Singh, son of Surendra Singh near Pakauli High School at Pakoli village on the Hajipur-Biddupur road under Raghopur constituency in Vaishali district. Santosh Singh was reportedly shot twice in the head while walking home after a bath in the Ganges. The BSF jawan who fired the shots said the youth did not heed a call to stop and he perceived him to be a ‘‘criminal'' or a ‘‘booth grabber'' going to loot the polling booth which was situated just 100 metres away from the school building, which had been converted into a BSF camp for the elections. Bihar Chief Secretary G S Kang described the killing as a ‘‘freak incident'' and ordered a magisterial inquiry.
Bihar Police also resorted to arbitrary arrest and detention. On 30 June 2005, two doctors – Dr Qamru Zamman and Dr Ajay were arrested in West Champaran and Muzaffarpur districts respectively for treating alleged Nepali Maoists in their clinics. The doctors were charged with sedition.
Torture was rampant. In 2004-2005, the NHRC received 954 complaints of police excesses. On 6 December 2005, Ranjit Kumar was brutally tortured in full public view by Ravindra Ram, the officer-in-charge of Nimchak Bathani police station in Gaya district for eloping with his maternal aunt, Ms Rekha. The officer-in-charge allegedly dragged Ranjit Kumar and Rekha out of the police station and directed other policemen to hang Ranjit Kumar from the branch of a tree while Rekha was made to pull the rope. Though Rekha was released later, Ranjit Kumar was charged with kidnapping and sent to judicial custody in Gaya jail.
There was virtual impunity for the excesses. On the night of 20 March 2005, Special Task Force (STF) personnel reportedly molested and thrashed sex workers and their family members in Sasaram under Rohtas district. An on-the-spot inquiry conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) of Sasaram, Mr Rajendra Prasad reportedly found the charges levelled by the sex workers against the STF jawans to be true. Mr Prasad reported that at the time of the incident, the jawans were in an inebriated condition and that they carried their weapons. But an FIR lodged against the security personnel on 22 March 2005 did not name any STF personnel even though the DSP's report disclosed the names of about half a dozen STF personnel.
The Maoists were active in many parts of Bihar and were responsible for violations of international humanitarian laws.
In February 2005, the Maoists issued death sentence to Rajindra Sao of Parariya village in Gaya district for rescuing and then taking Bharatiya Janata Party leader Venkaiah Naidu to the local police station after his helicopter ran out of fuel and made an emergency landing in Paraiya. The Maoists had later attacked the helicopter. Rajindra Sao went into hiding but his brother Surindra Sao was kidnapped by the Maoists to force him to surrender.
On 5 April 2005, suspected Maoists shot dead Government Railway Protection (GRP) official Nawal Kishore Mishra and seriously injured another GRP guard on Patna-Jha Jha DMU train near Jamui station.
The Naxalites were also responsible for destruction of economic infrastructure. At around 11 pm on 26 September 2005, around 20 Maoists reportedly surrounded Chakand railway station on Patna-Gaya section of the East Central Railway and blew it up by detonating dynamites.
The Maoists carried out extortion. On 8 March 2005, suspected activists of the CPI (Maoist) kidnapped 10 villagers – 2 from Sadokhar village under Chenari police station, and 8 from a Shivratri Mela near Gupta Dham in Rohtas district after they reportedly refused to pay “tax”. A boy, among those kidnapped, was later set free.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Government of India recorded 6,019 cases of violence against women in Bihar during 2005 which included, among others, 1,147 cases of rape, 451 cases of molestation, 929 cases of abduction, 1,014 dowry deaths and 1,574 cases of cruelty by husbands and relatives.
Women in Bihar continued to suffer from discrimination, violence and cruel cultural practices under which the victims were held guilty.
In September 2005, the panchayat of Muslim-dominated Padhyar village in Banka district allegedly forced a rape victim to publicly lick the spit of her husband Mohammad Farooq, who had instantly pronounced talaq (divorce according to Sharia) when she told him that she had been raped by one Mohammad Ajaz on 28 August 2005. The rape victim was also thrown out of the house by her husband. On the other hand, the rapist was let off by payment of a paltry fine of Rs 15,000 after he refused to marry the victim. The victim filed a case in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate and the court directed the Dhoraiya police station to lodge an FIR against Ajaz and his father.
Illiteracy and superstitions are widespread in rural Bihar where women were killed in the name of “witch-hunting”.
On the night of 17 April 2005, a mentally retarded woman identified as Savitri Devi was beaten to death by the villagers in Gulabbag village under Sadar police station of Purnea district declaring her of being a witch. The incident took place after the 3-year-old daughter of one Heera Oraon had died in the village after blood oozed out of her mouth and nose. Later the parents of the girl consulted a local “ojha” (exorcist) who accused Savitri Devi of causing the untimely death of their child with the power of her witchcraft. The infuriated villagers demanded that Savitri use her powers to bring the dead girl back to life. She was lynched to death when she could not do so.
In late October 2005, a 35-year-old woman was beaten up and paraded naked in front of her husband for allegedly practicing “witchcraft” by three persons at Phulwarisharif area of Patna district. The assailants first tied her husband to a chair and forced him to watch his wife being stripped naked and tortured. They sprinkled water on the woman and beat her up to “free her of any kind of evil spirit”. The incident occurred after the granddaughter of one Meera, a government high school teacher, got ill as soon as the victim's family shifted to their new house in the locality where Meera resided. Meera accused the victim of performing black magic on her grand-daughter.
On 28 November 2005, three members of a family identified as Karuna Devi, her husband Marari Singh and son Kaushal Prasad were shot dead by their relatives, who suspected Karuna Devi of performing witchcraft at Pyarepur village under Giriak police station in Nalanda district.
The National Crime Records Bureau recorded a total of 1,824 cases of violence against the Dalits which amounted to 7% of all the cases of violence against the Dalits in India during 2005. As many as 5,213 cases were pending trial in courts and 2,428 cases were pending investigation by the police in Bihar by the end of 2005. The conviction rate for the crimes against the Dalits in the state was 30.6% during 2005. The Dalits faced all forms of discrimination from being targeted as criminals by the law enforcement personnel to denial of entry to places of worship, schools and denial of participation in the elections by the upper caste Hindus. Any protest by the Dalits might warrant branding them as “Maoists”.
The “Musahars” (who are considered the lowest category among the Dalits) had been landless and their forefathers were branded as criminals. The present generation of Musahars continued to be regarded as criminals and targeted by the police. The social stigma was so great that it was reported that whenever a dacoity took place in the neighboring areas, the police raided the Musahars-inhabited Telra village in Sasaram district and arbitrarily arrested the Musahars! As a result, there was hardly any person in Telra village who had not been jailed at least once.
Arbitrary killings of the Dalits were common. On the night of 13 January 2005, a Dalit youth was shot dead and another seriously injured when twelve gang members of Sanjay Yadav attacked Bhorsaha village in Saharsa district. The gang also set on fire 10 Dalit huts.
The Dalits cannot even demand their wages from the upper castes. On 19 July 2005, a Dalit autorickshaw driver, Sanjay Paswan was beaten up and blinded by five passengers when he demanded Rs 50 as his fare in Maner near Patna. The local police allegedly refused to lodge a complaint fearing retribution by the five men who were said to be powerful and enjoying political patronage. Initially, Paswan was allegedly refused admission in two government-run hospitals in Patna.
In many parts of Bihar, the Dalits were denied access to education. In June 2005, a Dalit youth identified as Premhansh Sah of Koudiya village in East Champaran district was beaten up by the upper caste men for joining a college against their dictat to discontinue his education. The upper caste men also branded him as a Maoist and handed over to the police. But the police found him innocent and released him. Many Dalit youths were reportedly forced to leave the Koudiya village after they had enrolled in colleges because of the terror created by the upper caste people.
The Dalits continued to face atrocities for exercising their right to franchise. On the night of 15 October 2005, Rashtriya Janata Dal activists allegedly beat up some Dalits and threatened to kill them if they did not vote in favor of RJD candidates in Dahnpura village in Ara district. They also set a house and cattle on fire killing three cows.
Even when Dalit women were elected to public positions, they continued to suffer discrimination. Ms Deomanti Devi, a Dalit woman, who was elected as the chairperson of the Bodhgaya Nagar Panchayat in August 2002 continued to be “deprived of allowances and other entitlements privy to a civic body head”. Since becoming chairperson in August 2002, she reportedly knocked on many doors including that of the Urban Development Department in Patna for her allowances but she was allegedly not paid even the travel allowances.
The Dalit women remained extremely vulnerable to abuses by the upper caste men. Any attempt to access justice often warranted brutal retaliation.
On the night of 10 April 2005, a Dalit woman, wife of a Dalit policeman from Begusarai, was allegedly abducted and gang raped by four alleged upper caste men in a local hotel in Munger. According to the police, the rapists were powerful men of the area, including a petrol pump owner. The victim later filed a complaint with the police at the Jamalpur railway station.
On 28 April 2005, a Dalit woman Nirmala Devi was allegedly beaten up, tonsured and paraded naked after blackening her face by the upper caste men in Paswan Tola in village Dhameli under Mirganj police station in Purnia district for refusing to work as a domestic maid. An FIR (no. 63/2005) was lodged with the Mirganj police station on 2 May 2005. In the FIR she identified two accused — the village headmen of Dhameli, Amit Chowdhary and his associate Rajiv Chowdhary. The police also registered a case under Sections 341, 342, 323, 354, 427 and 380 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 34 and 3 of the Harijan Act.
On 2 August 2005, a young, pregnant Dalit woman identified as Manju Devi, wife of Binod Sada, was allegedly hit with rifle butt by former RJD MLA Sunil Kumar Pushpam because she failed to move out of the road quickly when his jeep started honking at her on the muddy road at Beethan village in Samastipur. Angry at her slight delay, the MLA got off his vehicle and began to hit Manju Devi with his rifle butt. Manju Devi was badly injured and had a miscarriage on the spot. She was left bleeding profusely. Later, she was admitted to a nearby hospital in Begusarai district, where she died on 6 August 2005. According to hospital sources, Manju died because of internal haemorrhage and rupture of veins.
The Dalits also continued to be denied access to public places. On 24 June 2005, Dalits filed a case with the police after their women were allegedly denied entry into the temple and beaten up by upper caste people at the Ganni Bhojpur village in Muzaffarpur district.
On 5 May 2005, the upper caste villagers rejected the inaugural meal cooked by two Dalit women, Shruti and Kamla, for the school children in a primary school under Central government sponsored mid-day meal scheme at Patheri village under Atari police station in Gaya. A few upper caste villagers reportedly entered the school at meal time and abused the Dalit cooks for their “audacity” to cook for the children from higher castes. They threatened every one who dared to touch the kheer, a kind of sweet dish, prepared by the Dalit women.
The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 115 cases of crimes against children, which included, among others, 25 murder cases, 8 rape cases, 72 kidnapping cases during 2005.
The children continued to be victims of atrocity by the security forces. On 19 January 2005, a teenaged boy Ravi of Manpur locality in Gaya was critically injured when a CRPF jawan fired at a truck driver following an altercation. The bullet missed the target and hit Ravi in the head.
In another incident, on 3 November 2005, a police officer, Kishore Yadav of Meskaur police station shot dead a 16-year-old boy identified as Pawan Kumar during a raid at Bijubigha village in Nawada district. The police team reportedly got information about the presence of some criminals in the village. When the villagers allegedly resisted the police team from carrying out its duty, Mr Yadav fired a few shots from his revolver, killing Pawan Kumar and critically injuring another. The Nawada district authorities suspended Kishore Yadav and ordered a magisterial inquiry in the incident.
14-year-old Salim Ansari alias Chand Ansari, who sold tea in the train, was pushed out of the running Delhi-bound Saryu-Yamuna Express train on 11 October 2005 allegedly by some policemen near Hajipur after they snatched away his day's earnings. The boy lost one of his legs in the incident and died on 15 October 2005 while undergoing treatment in Hajipur Sadar Hospital. Three railway policemen, including the officer-in-charge of the Hajipur Railway Police Station, K. K. Verma, were suspended for their alleged involvement in the tragic incident following a report submitted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police who investigated into the case.
Bihar also continued to be a transit point for trafficking of girls from Nepal. On 28 April 2005, the railway police rescued five Nepalese girls and arrested the pimp Twango Tamang, a citizen of Nepal, from the Raxaul-Delhi Satyagraha Express at Narkatiaganj railway station. The pimp reportedly confessed his involvement in trafficking of girls for international prostitution markets, including India and Kuwait.
. Major strike by naxalites in Bihar, The Hindu, 7 January 2005
. Voters panic as Ranvir Sena chief joins fray, The Statesman, 24 February 2004
. Bihar jails overcrowded, The Tribune, 25 April 2005
. SC will hear plea on plight of death row convicts, The Times of India, 1 September 2004
. Police gun kills village teenager, The Telegraph, 4 November 2005
. Please refer to the NHRC Annual Reports
. Police Firing in Siwan District; Three Killed, Scores Injured, The Patnadaily, 17 August 2005
. Mistaken for criminal, 25-yr-old gunned down, The Indian Express, 27 October 2005
. Civil Rightists protest against Bihar doctors' arrest, The Kashmir Times, 24 August 2005
. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC of India
. Bihar cops flog youth for eloping with aunt, The Indian Express, 8 December 2005
. FIR lodged against ‘unknown' jawans, The Times of India, 24 March 2005
. Maoist death sentence for Venkaiah saviour, The Deccan Herald, 5 February 2005
. Naxalites Kill a GRP Official; Loot Their Weapons, The Patnadaily, 6 April 2005
. Naxals blow up railway station in Gaya district, The Indian Express, 27 September 2005
. On day one, Naxals kidnap 10 villagers, The Indian Express, 9 March 2005
. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau, Government of India
. Husband throws out rape victim, The Times of India, 23 September 2005
. Woman lynched for witchcraft, The Deccan Herald, 20 April 2005
 Woman assaulted for ‘black magic' in Bihar, The Asian Age, 5 November 2005
. Three killed, one injured for suspected witchcraft, The Free Press Journal, 30 November 2005
. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau
. Bihar village faces social stigma - The Musahars took to crime as a means of earning their livelihood. In course of time, they adopted it as means of earning easy money, The Deccan Herald, 20 January 2005
. Dalit shot dead in Bihar, The Indian Express, 15 January 2005
. Dalit auto driver is beaten up and blinded, The Asian Age, 22 July 2005
. Youth beaten for getting educated, The Times of India, 30 June 2005
. Attack on Dalits in Ara to Squeeze Out Votes, The Patnadaily, 17 October 2005
. All work, no funds for Dalit panchayat head, The Indian Express, 18 June 2005
. Dalit woman reported gang-raped in Munger, The Patna Daily, 14 April 2005
. Woman paraded naked in Purnia village, The Times of India, 6 May 2005
. RJD leader beats pregnant Dalit woman to death, The Pioneer, 8 August 2005
. Dalit women denied temple entry in Bihar, The Times of India, 29 June 2005
. Villagers reject ‘Dalit' food in school, The Times of India, 19 May 2005
. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau
. Jawan fire injures boy, The Telegraph, 20 January 2005
. Police gun kills village teenager, The Telegraph, 4 November 2005
. Boy pushed out of train by cops dies - Bihar Salim's village turns ire on Laloo, The Indian Express, 17 October 2005
. Three Railway Policemen Suspended in the Death of Tea Vendor, The Patnadaily, 17 October 2005
. Railway Police in Bettiah Busts Human Trafficking, The Patnadaily, 30 April 2005