Guest post by MONOBINA GUPTA
I remember a chill running down my spine that early afternoon in 1998. I was standing at Laxmanpur Bathe – the site of a cold-blooded massacre a year ago. Then a reporter with The Telegraph, I was touring Bihar, reporting on the 1998 general elections, less than two years after the United Front government came to power. Bihar was then firmly under the thumb of the redoubtable Lalu Prasad. Tensions between the Maoist Coordination Committee (MCC) and the Ranvir Sena, a private army of upper caste landlords, were running high. Every reporter visiting the area had been advised by the district magistrates concerned not to travel after sundown. Newspapers in Delhi were full of stories about Bihar’s lawlessness, extortions and abductions even in broad daylight.
I had read details of that deadly night in the newspapers; and then of the sudden trips made by VIP cavalcades to the village in the aftermath of the bloodbath. The massacre had pitched the forgotten hamlet of Dalits into the glaring spotlight. Crowds of politicians and media descended on the spot, even as the grief stricken survivors were struggling with the shock of the attack and the terrible loss of their loved ones. Continue reading Laxmanpur Bathe, Then and Now: Monobina Gupta