The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Massacre specialist builds Gita case

Patna, Aug. 30: Ranbir Sena chief Barmeswarnath Singh today warned his interrogators that his arrest might not stop his outfit from carrying out massacres even as he quoted from the Gita to justify the bloodletting that has killed hundreds.

Superintendents of police from Bihar’s Gaya, Jehanabad and Aurangabad districts took turns to grill the 55-year-old teacher-turned- supreme commander of the Sena who was arrested yesterday from the Exhibition Road area of Patna. Singh, who claimed to be an authority on the Gita and Upanishads, bombarded the police with Sanskrit slokas whenever they asked him pointed questions, sources said.

Singh reportedly told his inquisitors how Arjuna was persuaded by Krishna to fight the Kauravas. “When the world is on the verge of disintegration due to Naxalite menace, I had to give up all worldly pleasures to join this war and the Sena has the sanction of God,” he told them, the sources said.

“Every action has its reaction,” he told another official, emphasising that the Sena was destined to be born because the emergence of the Naxalites had created a power vacuum. He warned that his outfit would remain active.

“Don’t take us for granted. Even when I am here, the Sena might strike,” he said.

Sources in Jehanabad said Singh’s outfit, born out of caste polarisation, faced its stiffest battle for survival within the organisation. The central authority, they said, failed to hold its ground because of infighting. The onslaught of the Naxalite People’s War Group (PWG) made it even tougher.

Starting as an organisation of the Bhumiars and Brahmins — who never saw eye to eye but closed ranks to fight the Naxalites — the Sena witnessed a grim battle for supremacy between the two castes. It was proved by the exit of Sunil Pandey, a Brahmin, from the organisation. Today, Pandey an Independent MLA. Then, Bhumiar leaders also got embroiled in a power-war.

“The PWG is all set to do to Ranbir Sena what the CPI(ML) had done to Bhoomi Sena. Between 1975 and 1988, the CPI(ML) had executed all the leaders of the Bhoomi Sena, leading to its decimation,” said Umadhar Singh, a former Naxalite leader. The Bhoomi Sena was a Kurmi farmers’ outfit.

On August 25, the PWG had killed three Ranbir Sena men at Pariyari in Arwal after a fight broke out among Sena leaders in Jehanabad’s Kinjar block. The block’s 20 villages used to be a citadel for the Sena. Now the PWG has taken over.

The most glaring example of Sena infighting was from the Mukdumpur block of Jehanabad. On December 5 last year, Chunnu Sharma, a powerful Sena commander, was killed in an encounter with the police in Mahadeobigha village. Sources said Punnu Sharma, another Sena leader, was behind Chunnu’s death. Punnu was later arrested, but Sena insiders say he surrendered.

Speculation is now rife on the circumstances leading to the Sena chief’s arrest yesterday. There are many who say he might have surrendered sensing a threat to his life. “It is unimaginable that he would be available on a busy area like Exhibition Road without being escorted by an armed squad. His death squad is equipped with sophisticated weapons like AK-47 and automatic self-loading rifles,” says a former director-general of police.

The Sena’s decimation has, however, led to added worry for the police in central Bihar. They are apprehensive that the power vacuum could help the Maoists consolidate their base as the Sena and other private armies always maintained a balance of power in the polarised social conditions.

“The Ranbir Sena at least never attacked the police, they killed Dalits. Now the police would be at the mercy of powerful landmines of the PWG,” said a senior officer.

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