Land dispute acquires hue of caste conflict in Bihar’s Gaya, has police on the edge

A tussle between an upper caste landlord and an OBC farmer of a nearby village, for control over a tract of land, has led to killing of the landlord and unleashed a cycle of retaliatory violence in Gaya district.

india Updated: May 15, 2017 19:27 IST
Anil Kumar Ojha
Anil Kumar Ojha
Hindustan Times, Gaya
Bihar violence,Gaya incidents,SSP Garima Malik
Ex-deputy CM Sushil Modi (in black jacket) and other BJP leaders meet the victims of violence in Gaya. (Rajesh Kumar/HT photo)

The police have arrested accused Anil Prasad of Kolhuara village under Imamganj police station of south Bihar’s Gaya district in connection with last Friday’s killing of Vikas Singh of Pipra village, under Dumaria PS, which had led to widespread violence and arson in and around Mander village of Imamganj sub-division.

The violence has its genesis in a land dispute between Pipra’s Vikas and Mahabir Prasad of Mandar, which has acquired the overtones of an upper caste-versus-other backward classes (OBCs) conflict. While Pipra has mainly upper caste residents, Mander is inhabited mainly by OBCs.

While confirming the arrest of Anil Prasad, Imamganj SDO NK Razak said, “The remaining accused persons have fled after the incident but raids are still underway to arrest them”. Prasad, the accused arrested, had been sent to jail, he said.

The cycle of violence began when Vikas went to Mandar village bazaar to attend the Devchandi Yajya, around midnight on May 12. Reports have it that having spotted his rival Mahabir Prasad and his son, Vikas fired shots at them from his rifle.

One of the bullets hit Gudia, granddaughter of Mahabir Prasad, following which a mob lynched Vikas and took away his rifle. An hour later, villagers of Pipra and supporters of Vikas torched more than a dozen houses and shops at Mandar and the village bazaar.

The police have registered four FIRs, since the cycle of violence began late night on Friday.

One FIR has been registered in connection of Vikas Singh’s killing, a second one on the firing at BA part two student Gudia Kumari, a third in connection with vandalism and arson at Mandar village and a fourth FIR has been registered against supporters of Vikas Singh for obstructing the police, after his murder.

Gaya SSP Garima Malik has constituted a police special investigation team (SIT), with the city SP and the Imamganj SDPO and SHOs, to investigate the sensational lynching of Vikas, even as tension is still running high across both the villages.

While villagers have deserted Mandar, fearing further backlash from Vikas’ supporters, the district administration and the police, also sensing further trouble, have deployed CRPF jawans at the affected villages, as part of their precautionary measures.

The police have issued notices to all the arms license-holders of Pipra village for verification of their papers and documents pertaining to their respective licenses.

Tension had been brewing between the two villages, for quite some time, over a five-bigha tract of land, which Vikas Singh reportedly wanted to have his control over but Mahabir Prasad and his family had been staking their claim over it.

First Published: May 15, 2017 19:27 IST