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

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Shankarbigha Revisited

With the sharpening of the agrarian crisis, conventional caste relations are being assailed by the younger generation who are aserting themselves against oppression and exploitation. This has prompted systematic attempts by the upper castes to curb the emergence of this new identity. The massacre at Shankarbigha last year and other similar incidents in the region have to be located in these emerging social tensions.

Even as the nation prepared to cele      brate the 50th anniversary of the       Republic, for the dalits of Shankarbigha, a remote hamlet in Jehanabad district of Bihar, January 25, 1999 was a doomsday. On this day of death and devastation, 23 dalits and backward caste people were killed by the private upper caste militia, the Ranvir Sena.

About 10 men had gathered on the ‘dalan’ of Shambhu Paswan to sing devotional songs. As they were tuning the musical instruments they were fired up on from close quarters. Six lost their lives on the spot and the other four were saved because they pretended to be dead. Women were preparing food at the hearth and they too were shot at. Among the victims five were women and six were children. Including four-year-old Ramvati Kumari and 10-month-old Munna Kumar.

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