ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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KERALA- Ministry on Way Out

in Shahabad in 1970 and the subsequent road to the line of annihilation and people's war in Bhojpur was preceded by an important event. In 1969, the town of Arrah witnessed one of the most massive torch-light processions in its history. Chanting slogans like 'Harijanistan lar he hinge' (We will fight for a state for Harijans), hitherto unknown leaders converged on the dais at the meeting at Ramna Mai- dan. Among them were Jagdish Mah- to, Rameshwar Ahir, Ram Ekbal Du- sadh, Latafat Hussain. Prabhu Hariian and others who later became the founding fathers of Maoism in Bhojpur; the people who attended were largely chamars, dusadhs and musahars. lag- dish Mahto's agitation for 'Harijanis- tan' in 1969-70 can be viewed as a sequel to the SSP-generated awakening among the educated section of the backward castes; and, as a necessary prelude to the resurgence among the more exploited sections of the backward (outside the Ahir-Kurmi-Koeri section) and scheduled castes in the forthcoming 'extremist' movement in the district, That the SSP could not contain the caste awakening from changing into a class war can be understood by comparing the 1970 situation with the situation in the 1930s: between the two caste awakenings significant changes had taken place. The growth of education among sections of the backward castes; the exposure of liberal Gandhism as an ineffective response to rural landlord power; Kesari Master's evaluation that wearing the sacred thread or sanskritisation did not alter unequal status; the demonstration effect of the IADP; and lastly, spread of a violent ideology which promised immediate relief, despite its costs, to restive individuals, Jagdish Mahto and Rameshwar Ahir responded in ways unlike their forebears: as a class and not a caste.

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