People struggle at Forbesganj

Thousands of villagers armed with traditional weapons offered ‘shramdaan’ and volunteered as labourers in order to construct the Bhajanpur-Sheetalpur road at Forbesganj on 16 August. This is a victory for the people’s struggle who have braved the severest repression and communal encirclement.

This public road, which has been in existence for the past 60 years or so, connects Bhajanpur village (mainly inhabited by 1000 families of the minority community) to the Karbala, Idgah, hospital and local bazaar. Last year, on June 3, police fired on a demonstration by local people protesting against this public road being blocked off for the benefit of a private factory owned by a BJP MLC’s son. The factory itself was being constructed on BIADA land that had been illegally allotted. Police not only fired on unarmed protestors, they also stomped viciously fallen bodies displaying deep communal hatred. Four people — Mustafa Ansari, Mukhtar Ansari, Sajmin Khatoon and 8-month old Naushad - were killed in the police brutality.

More than a year has passed — but the people of Forbesganj are yet to get justice. The one-man enquiry commission has barely taken off the ground.

Following the firing, the villagers constructed the road once last year at the time of Ramadan but,  under pressure from higher authorities, the road was again destroyed. And the road continued to remain closed in spite of repeated appeals to the local administration.

Recently, even the Home Secretary of Bihar was approached, but the state government and administration did not act. Faced with a Government that obstinately closed its ears to pleas for restoration of the road, the villagers decided to construct the road on their own.

Eid was approaching, and this road was needed by the villagers to approach the Idgah. Because of the condition of the road, they were even unable to reach the Masjid, though it was the month of Ramadan.

The construction of the road took place in the presence of a large gathering of adivasis and minorities, as well as CPI(ML) central committee member and former MP Rameshwar Prasad.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2012 on page no. 7

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