Forbesganj: History of the bloody road

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,,

Patna: The road that would connect Bhajanpur village under Forbesganj block of Araria district to the local market, Idgah and even block headquarters has been in use by people for over 50 years. About a quarter century ago, Bihar government acquired the vast plots of land through which the road would pass. About a year ago, the state government gave the plot (perhaps including the road) to a private company. The company blocked the road on 2nd June 2011. When the villagers came out and demanded the road on 3rd June 2011 they were given bullets. Here is a complete history of the road.

1954-1958: A government survey for land was conducted from 1954-1958. The road in question had no shape then – Bhajanpur villagers would cross the vast open private plots to reach local market and Idgah. That’s why the path could not be counted as road in the survey and map.

1958-59: The Bhajanpur village was then under Islampur panchayat which was later divided into Rampur South and Rampur North panchayats, The Islampur panchayat got Noor Mohd Ansari as its first Mukhiya. As the residents of Bhajanpur were facing lots of problems due to absence of a connecting road leading to Idgah and market, Mukhiya Noor Mohd Ansari urged all the villagers who had small or big plots through which people would walk, to donate a portion of their plot for a straight road. All agreed and happily donated some portion of their plot and thus the village got a straight road. Since then several government funds have been spent on this road as it became lifeline for the Bhajanpur village.

From here the road would start. The company fenced the portion on June 2 but it was pulled down by villagers on June 3 and as a result police opened fire and killed four

1984-85: The Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) acquired the open private plots (185 acres) of the villagers at very cheap rates (Rs 15000 per acre) in the name of making the land fertile for agriculture. However, in its map after the acquisition, BIADA maintained the road and that’s why more government funds were later spent on the road, and people continued using it as usual.

1993: Deputy Mukhiya Gyan Yadav was working as acting Mukhiya. Under Jawahar Rozgar Yojna, he allocated fund for filling the entire stretch of the road with soil in order to make it smooth for the users.

2000: After elections for Mukhiya, Jahan Ara was elected Zila Parishad chairperson. She sanctioned funds for two small bridges (pulia) on the stretch of the road and for soil.

The pulled down portion of the wall

2006-07: Sabir Ansari was Pramukh of Forbesganj block. During the year he sanctioned about Rs 8 lakh for converting the kuccha road into pucca road with bricks.

2010: One day some construction work began on the acquired land. Villagers had no idea what was going on. (BIADA had ditched the villagers and given the plot to Auro Sundaram International Pvt. Ltd). At some stage, when huge construction work had spread over the plot, villagers told the company people that theirs was the public road which they have been using for decades. People continued using the road and the company continued construction work without touching the road and disturbing the villagers. People had no problem with the company. They never disturbed their work. Company never blocked the road.

February 2011: On a Friday, company began digging the plot very adjacent to the road. People felt problem as they would use the road day and night. They would go to graze their cattle through the road. Even then the company did not tell the villagers that they will block the road. People objected the digging. Police came to the spot. They too said this is the old road which they also have been using for patrolling. They snubbed the company people and warned them that if they again touch the road, they will be arrested and their machines will be seized. Then the villagers filled the dug up portion alongside the road with the company machines. The company never called the villagers and held meeting and they never said they want this road or have bought it from BIADA.

The road which would take to Idgah in the straight, Forbesganj block office on left and Ranigan on right

However, apprehending the danger and risk of the road being blocked one day, the villagers submitted a petition on 8th February 2011 with the SDO office.

March 2011: SDO called some villagers at his office. He allowed only three people in his chamber. SDO is said to have told them to forget the road. Villagers say SDO told them that they will not get the road as he has orders from the CM. The road will be broken.

May 31, 2011: From the evening huge contingent of armed police force with anti-riot van and fire brigade began reaching the company premises where a tent was erected for them. Entire area was turned into police camp. The villagers were surprised at the deployment of armed police force in the area. Even at this stage, the company did not tell the villagers it is going to block the road permanently.

June 1, 2011: Suspicious of the khaki movement, villagers next morning began visiting the site to see what was going on. But the company did not tell a word to the villagers about what they are going to do. At last villagers asked the company men what was going on. The villagers were asked to sit in the tent. They were surrounded by the armed policemen. There were some police officers, some officials of the company and BIADA. A police officer of local thana stood up and said that government is owner of the road as well as the plot. If government needs, it can take it. Villagers can’t do anything. Villagers were silent. At one time during the meeting, villagers said if the company needs their very old road it can take but first it will have to prepare an alternative road from the side of the block headquarters. That road must be given to them with full legal papers so that it is not usurped again by anyone. Only after the new road comes into existence the company can block the old road. The company is said to have not agreed. The villagers were looking at the force surrounding them and at the police officer who was giving the final verdict. The police officer also told them that he has been transferred from Forbesganj PS to Raniganj but the SP has asked him to stay for blocking the road. Villagers began dispersing one by one. They had no courage to argue with them.

The company blocked the road leading to the Forbesganj block office

After that, the company in the presence of the police force erected the portion of its wall to permanently block the road. The blocking was completed on 2nd June.

June 3, 2011: A group of villagers came out and demolished the portion that blocked the road. It took them couple of hours. They also had clash with the policemen. After it, the crowd dispersed. However, a group of youths went to Tapsiya chowk about two km away from the site and blocked the general road by putting tyres on fire. They thought higher officers will come and they will put their demand before them. Meanwhile, extra force was called to the company site and police began firing towards the village side. They shot at whoever they sighted. This is the reason the passersby or children became the victims. If there were 4000 people as the FIRs of the police and company claim and the police had opened fire at them then the casualty must be higher, villagers say.


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