Mangal Pandey

The first freedom fighter and martyr Shree Mangal Pandey was born in village Nagwa District Ballia. He was famous for bravery amongst his colleagues.An english scholar “Fisher” has written that Shri Mangal Pandey was having all qualities of a good soldier. He was so brave and capable to embrace his death peacefully.

According to the records available in Jabalpur museum( general order books). Shri Mangal Pandey was due to be executed on 18th April but he was hanged ten days before i.e. 8th April and it was kept secret. Because english rules were well aware of the fact that if Mangal Pandey remains alive it will endanger British rule.

Thus Mangal Pandey became the first freedom fighter and martyr of 1857. The name of Mangal Pandey became an emblem of revolt against British rule. He was a soldier of the 34th Native Infantry whose attack on a superior officer came to be recognised as the event that sparked India’s First War of Independence. Little is known of his life before that momentous incident but he has been declared a martyr since.

On March 29, 1857, at Barrackpore near Kolkata, Mangal Pandey started an open mutiny, inviting his comrades to join him. Pandey attacked his British sergeant and wounded an adjutant. The office in charge, General Hearsay, noticed that Pandey was in the throes of some sort of ‘religious frenzy’, and ordered a jamadaar to arrest him. The latter refused. Surrounded by guards and European officers, Pandey tried to commit suicide by shooting himself. He was seriously wounded, and promptly arrested. Following a court-martial on April 6, he was hanged at Barrackpore on April 8, 1857. As a collective punishment for his act, the entire regiment was also dismissed.

According to records at the Jabalpur Museum, Pandey was to be executed on April 18. But he was hanged 10 days earlier to prevent the regiment from harbouring ill will against superiors. The English were also aware that news of Pandey’s death could spark more unrest. Going by the date on which he was executed, Mangal Pandey became the first freedom fighter and martyr of 1857. His name has since been synonymous with revolt.

Kunwar Singh

Kunwar Singh was one of the leading figures of the Indian Movement of 1857-59. A scion of Rajpur nobility he was born in Jagdishpur in the Shahabad (Now Bhojpur) District of Bihar about 1777 and was destined to die a hero in the Great Rising of 1857.When India rose against British authority in 1857, Babu Kunwar Singh was already past his prime being nearly eighty years old.

Despite his age and failing health, when the call to fight came, the old lion plunged into the thick of it and for nearly a year battled against the British forces with grim determination and undaunted courage.

In Bihar, Kunwar Singh was the chief organizer of the fight against British. He assumed command of the soldiers who had revolted at Danapur on 5th July. Two days later he occupied Arrah, the district headquarter. Major Vincent Eyre relieved the town on 3rd August, defeated Kunwar Singh’s force and destroyed Jagdishpur. Kunwar Singh left his ancestral village and reached Lucknow in December 1857. In March 1858 he occupied Azamgarh. However, he had to leave the place soon. Pursued by Brigadier Douglas, he retreated towards his home in Bihar. On 23 April, Kunwar Singh had a victory near Jagdishpur over the force led by Captain Le Grand, but the following day he died in his village. The mantle of the old chief now fell on his brother Amar Singh who, despite heavy odds, continued the struggle and for a considerable time ran a parallel government in the district of Shahabad. In October 1859 Amar Singh joined the rebel leaders in the Nepal Terai.

The part which Kunwar Singh played in the First War of Independence marks a glorious chapter in the chequered history of his country. After harrying the British at the head of a devoted band of followers for nearly a year Kunwar Singh was forced to retreat to his ancient seat at Jagdishpur. It is believed that while crossing the Ganga on his way to Jagdishpur he was wounded in the arm by the pursuing forces and the old warrior severed the injured limb and flung it into the Ganga as his last offering. Soon after he fought his last battle near Jagdishpur on the 23rd April, 1858 in which the British forces were completely routed. Kunwar Singh passed away the next day.

To honor his memory and his contribution to India’s freedom movement, the Republic of India issued a commemorative stamp on 23rd April, 1966.

Bhikari Thakur

Bhikari Thakur, popularly known as “Shakespear of Bhojpuri” was born in a barber-family on 18th December,1887 at Kutubpur ( Diyara) Village in Saran District. Name of his father and mother was Dal Singar Thakur and Shivkali Devi respectively. He had a younger brother named Bahor Thakur.

He went Kharagpur to earn livelihood. He had earned much and but not satisfied with the job. Ramlila had impressed him. He went Jagannath Puri. till the time, he has been converted to another person.

He established Dance Party in the native village and began to play Ram Lila, sing songs and took interest in Social-works. Now he writes dramas, songs and books etc. Language of the books was simple and attracted many. Books were published from Varanasi , Chhapra nad Howrah.

His literary creations including Dramas ( Bidesiya, Beti-Bechawa,Bidhawa Bilaap etc.) and songs are praised and used to sing even today. He died in the age of 84 years on 10th July,1971. 

Bhikari Thakur – The Shakespeare of Bihar

Bhikari Thakur is best known for the creation of the twentieth century theatre form Bidesia. Bhikari Thakur was a barber (a backward Caste) who abandoned home and hearth to form a group of actors who dealt with issues of confrontation: between the traditional and the modern, between urban and rural, between the haves and the have-nots. Appreciative native Bhojpuri audiences consider Bhikari Thakur as the incomparable founder father, propagator and exponent par excellence of this form. He was a folk poet, a folk singer, a folk dancer and actor.

The narrative of Bidesia has been made so effective through the medium of vibrant dances and pleasing music and based on such life-like stories that it presents a realistic picture of the poor joint families of the region.

The Bhojpuri taste is so theatrically inclined that it will not hesitate even to undertake long journeys to witness a performance. Like in many other folk forms, the female roles in Bidesia are played by the male actor-dancers. Normally they wear dhoti or shirt trousers but they sport long hair and make it and ornament it like women’s hair. Dance forms an integral part of this form, in fact it’s the essence of the performance, which starts with dance in order to attract a large audience. Once this is done the Bidesia starts. The actors, besides dancing take on female roles in different dramatic contexts. Inspite of the advent of various other modes of entertainment, Bidesia remains the most popular and refreshing relaxation for the Bhojpuris. Through his plays, he gave voice to the cause of poor laborers and tried to create awareness about the poor situation of women in bhojpuri society. He always stood and spoke against casteism and communalism in the same cultural tunes. People from this region are very fond of and feel proud of his contribution to the local cultural traditions. His plays and his style of theatre are very popular for their rhythmic language, sweet songs and appealing music. His plays are a true reflection of bhojpuri culture. Almost all of his works focused on the day-to-day problems of lower castes/classes. He used satire and light-hearted comments to maximum effect to put forward his views on social ills and other problems plaguing Bhojpuri society.

He was born on December 18, 1887 at the village of Kutubpur in the district of Saran, Bihar. His mother’s name was Shivakali Devi and father was Dalsingar Thakur. He belonged to a naai (barber) caste, one of the most backward castes in Indian society. The traditional work of his caste was cutting hairs and assisting brahmins in marriage as well as in death ceremonies. They were also used by dikus to send and distribute ceremonial (in cases of marriages and deaths) and other messages in the village and nearby areas. They acted like postal workers in the traditional-feudal village setup.

In one of his works he says: “Jati Hazzam more Kutubpur mokam… Jati-pesha bate, bidya naheen bate babujee”. In this he speaks about his own caste and regrets that his caste people are distributing letters to all without knowing the importance of the letter, or the alphabets. He clearly understood the power of education and continuously chided his people for being illiterate and bounded by jajmani (patron-client) relations with the dikus.

Among the masses of Bihar and other Bhojpuri-speaking areas, he needs no introduction. But the so-called mainstream ‘culture’, like always, has conspired to keep mum about his contribution, actively avoiding even mentioning his name. Hence, there are no serious documented accounts of his works till now. He is greatest flag bearer of Bhojpuri language and culture. Bhojpuri is widely spoken in major parts of Bihar including Jharkhand, some parts of eastern UP and Bengal. He is not only popular in this linguistic belt but also in the cities where Bihari workers migrated for their livelihood. Many criticized him for upholding feudal and Brahminical values, which to some extent may be true. Despite the support and legitimation of few brahminical and feudal values in his works, he always pioneered the vision of a just and egalitarian society and this is the difference we have to understand. No vision of egalitarian and subaltern society can be even imagined under these idiotic and nonsensical shadows of Brahminical values.

Though his plays revolved and evolved around villages and rural society, they still became very famous in the big cities like Kolkatta, Patna, Benares and other small cities, where migrant labourers and poor workers went in search for their livelihood. Breaking all boundaries of nation he, along with his mandali, also visited Mauritius, Kenya, Singapore, Nepal, British Guyana, Surinam, Uganda, Myanmar, Madagascar, South Africa, Fiji, Trinidad and other places where bhojpuri culture is more or less flourishing.

Bidesia, as a vibrant mode of a regional cultural expression, rugged and unsophisticated in form and rich in variety, is a powerful expression of cultural heritage of weaker section of society. Bhikari Thakur, through his artistic talents and bitter experiences, developed it by picking up elements from Ramlila, raslila, birha yatra and other performative elements and molded it into a totally new and wonderful style known now as bidesia. Bidesia means migrated people, who left their home in search of livelihood, but in the larger context Bhikari’s bidesia not only migrated from the lands but also from their culture also. Many people get confused between the bidesia style and his play Bidesia. Actually, he did all his plays in bidesia style which is very similar to nautanki, but later his theatrical style was known from his famous production Bidesia.

He has written as well as directed and performed ten major works; beginning with a non-serious vasant-bahar based on the dhobi-dhobin dance he saw somewhere.

After Thakur’s death in 1971, his theatre style and use of bhojpuri language are continually being abused by the music industry in producing bhojpuri songs and plays replete with sexual innuendo. This is like a counter-revolution of the brahmin-bania combine against all the ideals that Bhikari Thakur propagated through his art. The dikus have no relations based on social reality and always aim to get maximum monetary profits on the basis of cultural vulgarity. This market forced a shift from Bhikari Thakur’s socio-economic oriented plays to mere sexual fantasy and cheap entertainment. This reflects the creative bankruptcy of dikus against which we dalit-bahujans should come forward and play a vital role to safe guard our anti-diku legacy in which Bhikari Thakur is one of the big stars in the galaxy of Dalit-bahujan revolutionary artistes.

His major productions include: – Bidesia, Bhai- Birodh, Beti-Viyog or Beti Bechba (seller of daughter), Kalyuga Prema (Love in Kalyuga), Radheshyam Behar (based on krisna- radha love), Ganga-asnan (ceremonial bath in ganga), Bidhwa- vilap, Putrabadh (killing of son), Gabar- Bichar (based on an illegitimate child), and Nanad Bhojai.

1. Bhai-Virodh (opposition from brother)

This play deals with the theme of joint family, which is a very prominent feature of Bihar’s rural society. Three brothers are separated due to lack of confidence and respect for each other on the instigation of a person outside their family. However, at the end they realize the importance of living together but not before a lot of harm had actually taken place.

2. Beti-Viyog or Beti- Bechwa (seller of daughter)

This play is considered a very progressive play. Bhikari Thakur through this play criticizes the wide-spread custom of selling young girls in marriage to much older men. This custom prevailed in Bhojpuri-speaking areas until recently. The protagonist is a young girl whose father sells her to an older person.

3. Kalyuga- Prem

Through this play Bhikari Thakur talks about the bad effects of drinking. The lone wage earner of the family is a drunkard and often visits prostitutes. This extravagance soon leads to the pauperization of his family. His whole family including his wife and son suffers tremendously because of the bad habits of the head of the family. Later in the play the wife and son decide to confront him but to no avail. Later being fed up with his father’s immoral ways, the son runs away from the family and goes to Calcutta to earn money to eventually return and rescue his mother.

4. Ganga-Asnan

Malechu is from a village. His wife wants to go to bathe in the Ganga but his mother is too old to do so. The wife finally prevails and they set out but not after loading much luggage for his old mother to carry on the way. Before they reach the Ganga a quarrel ensues and Malechu beats up his mother. At the banks of the Ganga, his mother gets lost in a fair. In the same fair, his wife is seduced by a sadhu with the promise of giving her a son. Malechu finds her in the nick of time and epiphany dawns on the both of them who then find the mother and beg her forgiveness. The story is a critique both of the distance between parents and their children in a situation where old parents are completely dependent on their children and also of the tantric culture of sadhus who most often are conmen.

5. Vidhwa-Vilap (The weeping widow)

The story is about how widows are treated within their homes. It is seen as an extension of Beti-bechwa for more often than not young girls married to old men; spend most of their lives as widows. The story reflects the hatred and seclusion a widow has to suffer in brahminical society for no fault of her own.

6. Gabar-Dichor

It the story of an illegitimate son of Garbari and Galij’s wife. Galij returns from the town to find the village gossiping about his son’s parentage. He wants to take Dichor back to Calcutta with him. But both Galij’s wife and Garbari intervene. A quarrel ensues as each of them claims Dichor as their own. The panchayat is called and they decide that Dichor be divided into three pieces. A man comes and maps Dichors body and agrees to do the job for four annas a piece. The mother relents refusing to pay and giving up all claim on the son. The panchayat sees the light and Dichor is allowed to stay with his mother. Almost all his plays took their themes from society but were molded in Bhikari’s new progressive and revolutionary style. When asked why he took to theatre, Bhikari answered, “I used to watch Ramlila and Raslila. When in Ramlila, Vyasji gave sermons to people; I also thought I could also give sermons to my people”. This dream came true and till his last day he served his people through his sermons, which unlike diku sermons were based on real life. But our legendary cultural figure is no more among us. He breathed his last on July 10, 1971 after giving us a new lease of life.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Dr. Rajendra Prasad, son of Mahadev Sahai, was born in Zeradei, Bihar on December 3, 1884. Being the youngest in a large joint family “Rajen” was greatly loved. He was strongly attached to his mother and elder brother Mahendra. In Zeradei’s diverse population, people lived together in considerable harmony. Rajendra Prasad’s earliest memories were of playing “kabaddi” with his Hindu and Muslim friends alike. In keeping with the old customs of his village and family, Rajen was married when he was barely 12 years old to Rajvanshi Devi.

Rajen was a brilliant student; standing first in the entrance examination to the University of Calcutta, he was awarded a Rs.30/month scholarship. He joined the famed Calcutta Presidency College in 1902. His scholarship, ironically, would pose the first test of his patriotism. Gopal Krishna Gokhale had started the Servants of India Society in 1905 and asked Rajen to join. So strong was his sense of duty toward his family and education that he, after much deliberation, refused Gokhale. But the decision would not rest easy on him. Rajen recalled, “I was miserable” and for the first time in his life his performance in academia declined, and he barely cleared his law examinations. 

Having made his choice, however, he set aside the intruding thoughts, and focused on his studies with renewed vigor. In 1915, Rajen passed the Masters in Law examination with honors, winning a gold medal. Subsequently, he completed his Doctorate in Law as well.

As an accomplished lawyer, however, Rajen realized it would be only a matter of time before he would be caught up in the turmoil of the fight for independence. While Gandhiji was on a fact finding mission in Chamaparan district of Bihar to address grievances of local peasants, he called on Rajendra Prasad to come to Champaran with volunteers. Dr. Prasad rushed to Champaran. Initially he was not impressed with Gandhiji’s appearance or conversation. In time, however, Dr. Prasad was deeply moved by the dedication, conviction and courage that Gandhiji displayed. Here was a man alien of the parts, who had made the cause of the people of Champaran his own. Dr.Prasad decided that he would do everything he could to help, with his skills as a lawyer and as an enthusiastic volunteer.

Gandhiji’s influence greatly altered many of Dr. Prasad’s views, most importantly on caste and untouchability. Gandhiji made Dr. Prasad realize that the nation, working for a common cause, “became of one caste, namely co-workers.” Dr. Prasad reduced the number of servants he had to one, and sought ways to simplify his life. He no longer felt shame in sweeping the floor, or washing his own utensils, tasks he had all along assumed others would do for him.

Whenever the people suffered, Dr. Prasad was present to help reduce the pain. In 1914 floods ravaged Bihar and Bengal. Dr. Prasad became a volunteer distributing food and cloth to the flood victims. In 1934, Bihar was shaken by an earthquake, which caused immense damage and loss of property. The quake, devastating by itself, was followed by floods and an outbreak of malaria which heightened misery. Dr. Prasad dove right in with relief work, collecting food, clothes and medicine. His experiences here led to similar efforts elsewhere too. In 1935, an earthquake hit Quetta. Dr. Prasad was not allowed to lend a hand because of Government restrictions. Nevertheless, he set up relief committees in Sind and Punjab for the homeless victims who flocked there. 

Dr. Prasad called for non-cooperation in Bihar as part of Gandhiji’s non-cooperation movement. Dr. Prasad gave up his law practice and started a National College near Patna, 1921. The college was later shifted to Sadaqat Ashram on the banks of the Ganga. The non-cooperation movement in Bihar spread like wildfire. Dr. Prasad toured the state, holding public meeting after another, collecting funds and galvanizing the nation for a complete boycott of all schools, colleges and Government offices. He urged the people to take to spinning and wear only khadi. Bihar and the entire nation was taken by storm, the people responded to the leaders’ call. The machinery of the mighty British Raj was coming to a grinding… halt. 

The British India Government utilized the one and only option at its disposal-force. Mass arrests were made. Lala Lajpat Rai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Deshbandhu Chittranjan Das and Maulana Azad were arrested. Then it happened. Peaceful non- cooperation turned to violence in Chauri Chaura, Uttar Pradesh. In light of the events at Chauri Chaura, Gandhiji suspended the civil disobedience movement. The entire nation was hushed. A murmur of dissent began within the top brass of the Congress. Gandhiji was criticized for what was called the “Bardoli retreat.” 

Dr. Prasad stood by his mentor, seeing the wisdom behind Gandhiji’s actions. Gandhiji did not want to set a precedent of violence for free India. In March 1930, Gandhiji launched the Salt Satyagraha. He planned to march from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi seashore to break the salt laws. A salt satyagraha was launched in Bihar under Dr. Prasad. Nakhas Pond in Patna was chosen as the site of the satyagraha. Batch after batch of volunteers courted arrest while making salt. Many volunteers were injured. Dr. Prasad called for more volunteers. Public opinion forced the Government to withdraw the police and allow the volunteers to make salt. Dr. Prasad then sold the manufactured salt to raise funds. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment. 

His service on the various fronts of the movement for independence raised his profile considerably. Dr. Prasad presided over the Bombay session of the Indian National Congress in October 1934. Following the resignation of Subhash Chandra Bose as the President of the Congress in April 1939, Dr. Prasad was elected President. He did his best to heal the rifts created between the incompatible ideologies of Subhash Chandra Bose and Gandhiji. Rabindranath Tagore wrote to Dr. Prasad, “I feel assured in my mind that your personality will help to soothe the injured souls and bring peace and unity into an atmosphere of mistrust and chaos…” 

As the freedom struggle progressed, the dark shadow of communalism which had always lurked in the background, steadily grew. To Dr. Prasad’s dismay communal riots began spontaneously burst all over the nation and in Bihar. He rushed from one scene to another to control the riots. Independence was fast approaching and so was the prospect of partition. Dr. Prasad, who had such fond memories of playing with his Hindu and Muslim friends in Zeradei, now had the misfortune of witnessing the nation being ripped into two. 

In July 1946, when the Constituent Assembly was established to frame the Constitution of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected its President. Two and a half years after independence, on January 26, 1950, the Constitution of independent India was ratified and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected the nation’s first President. Dr. Prasad transformed the imperial splendor of Rashtrapati Bhavan into an elegant “Indian” home. Dr. Prasad visited many countries on missions of goodwill, as the new state sought to establish and nourish new relationships. He stressed the need for peace in a nuclear age. 

In 1962, after 12 years as President, Dr. Prasad retired, and was subsequently awarded the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian award. With the many tumults of his vigorous and accomplished life, Dr. Prasad recorded his life and the decades before independence in many books, among the more noted of which are “Satyagraha at Champaran” (1922), “India Divided” (1946), his autobiography “Atmakatha” (1946), “Mahatma Gandhi and Bihar, Some Reminisences” (1949), and “Bapu ke Kadmon Mein” (1954). 

Within months of his retirement, early in September 1962, his wife Rajvanshi Devi passed away. In a letter written a month before his death to one devoted to him, he said, “I have a feeling that the end is near, end of the energy to do, end of my very existence”. He died on 28 February 1963 with ‘Ram Ram’ on his lips.

Pride of Bihar

Ustad Bismillah Khan was the third classical musician after Pt Ravi Shankar and Smt M S Subbulakshmi to be awarded Bharat Rathna, the highest civilian honour in India.

The gentle genius of Bismillah Khan was  perhaps single handedly responsible for making Shehnai a famous classical instrument. Traditionally used to play music during marriages, Shehnai is the counterpart of south indian nadaswaram. It is also used to play music in temples. 

Simplicity was the way of life for Ustad, It retains the old world charm of a Benaras life… his chief mode of transport was a cycle-rikshaw, even after he became one of the most respected musician !

The legendary shehani maestro, a man of tenderness, a man who believed in remaining private and who believed that musicians are supposed to be heard and not seen. Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916 at Bhirung Raut Ki Gali, in Dumraon as the second son of Paigambar Khan and Mitthan. He was named as Qamaruddin to rhyme with Shamsuddin, their first son. His grandfather, Rasool Baksh Khan uttered “Bismillah” after looking at the newborn, thus he was named Bismillah Khan.

His ancestors were court musicians in the princely state of Dumraon in Bihar and he was trained under his uncle, the late Ali Bux `Vilayatu’, a shehnai player attached to Varanasi’s Vishwanath Temple. He brought Shehnai to the center stage of indian music with his concert in the calcutta All India Music Conference in 1937. There was no looking back. It was Khan Sahib who poured his heart out into Raga Kafi from Red Fort on the eve of India’s first Republic Day ceremony.

Khan had the rare honor of performing at Delhi’s Red Fort on the eve of India’s Independence in 1947. He also performed Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on the eve of India’s first Republic Day ceremony, on January 26, 1950. His recital had almost become a cultural part of the Independence Day Celebrations telecast on Doordarshan every year on August 15th. After the Prime Minister’s speech from Lal Qila (Red Fort) in Old Delhi, Doordarshan would broadcast live performance by the shehnai maestro. And this tradition had been going on since the days of Pandit Nehru.

Where others see conflict and contradiction between his music and his religion, Bismillah Khan had seen only a divine unity. Music, sur, namaaz is the same thing. His namaaz was the seven shuddh and five komal surs. Even as a devout Shia, Khan Sahib was also a staunch devotee of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music. 

His honorary doctorate from the Benares Hindu University and Shantiniketan bespeaks of his fame. He was bequeathed with the Sangeet Natak Academi Award, the Tansen Award of the Madhya Pradesh government and also the prestigious Padma Vibhushan. On August 17, 2006, Khan was taken ill and admitted to the Heritage Hospital, Varanasi for treatment. He died after four days on August 21, 2006 due to a cardiac arrest. He was ninety years old. He is survived by five sons, three daughters and a large number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Government of India declared one day of national mourning on his death. His body was buried at Fatemain burial ground of old Varanasi under a neem tree with 21-gun salute from Indian Army.

He played in Afghanistan, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Canada, West Africa, USA, USSR, Japan, Hong Kong and almost every capital city across the world.

Bihar more happening tourist spot than Goa?

Celebrated as the party destination in India, Goa appears to have lost its ‘happening’ tag to the humble Bihar. Data collected by the Union tourism ministry appears to indicate that Bihar attracted a larger number of foreign tourists in 2009 than Goa.

The government’s India Tourism Statistics report shows that while 4.2 lakh foreign tourists visited Bihar in 2009, Goa drew about 3.7 lakh losing its place in the top 10 destinations in India. Industry hands say that the economic downturn was largely responsible for the sharp decline in the number of tourists. Increasing number of adverse reports on the safety of women and declining law and order situation may also have been responsible for the drop in numbers. In fact states like Kerala and Rajasthan that have been hot international favourites have suffered the most in 2009 thanks to the global economic situation. While the number of foreign tourist arrivals dropped by 27% in Rajasthan from 14.7 lakh in 2009 to 10.7 lakh in 2008, Kerala saw 5.4 lakh tourists arriving in 2009. Andhra, that remains numero uno for domestic tourists, also witnessed stagnation with tourist arrivals increasing from 7.8 lakh to just 7.9 lakh between 2008 and 2009.

Delhi lost its place as the top ranking state in 2008 to Tamil Nadu that saw a 16.7% increase in foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in 2009. The top 5 states in FTAs were TN (23.6 lakh), Maharashtra (19.9 lakh), Delhi (19.5 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (15.32 lakh) and West Bengal (11.8 lakh).

United States continued to send the maximum number of tourists in 2009 as it had in 2008. The top 10 source countries in 2009 were USA, UK, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Malaysia and Japan. These countries accounted for 64% of the total foreign tourist arrivals in 2009.

Government will look into Bihar Industries Association demands: Official

PATNA: The government will pay heed to the Bihar industrialists’ demands of VAT reimbursement, relaxation in commercial taxes and allowing them to create their own industrial areas, among others, to boost industrial growth in the state, said principal secretary, industries, Alok Kumar Sinha, at an interactive session with members of Bihar Industries Association (BIA) here on Saturday.

Sinha said he would call a meeting next week of officials of his department to discuss the suggestions made by the BIA members for industrial development in the state. He also assured the BIA members to arrange their meeting with Bihar State Electricity Board ( BSEB) officials to discuss their demand for reducing power tariff for industries.

40000 Bihar children missing, says Amod Kanth

PATNA: The magnitude of human trafficking in Bihar is alarming as about 35,000 to 40,000 children from the state were missing and nobody knew about their whereabouts, said former Delhi police commissioner Amod Kanth. There was no human development indicator in Bihar, resulting in the frequent use of child labour and violation of law dealing with it, he said.

Speaking on the first day of the three-day seminar on ‘Training of Master trainers: To combat human trafficking’, organized jointly by the crime investigation department (CID) of Bihar police and Save the Children, a civil society organization, here on Monday, Kanth stressed the need to redefine human trafficking as the present definition did not deal with the issue in its entirety. The Central government was working on a new manual to make it clear, he said, adding that the Immoral Trafficking Act discussed only about commercialization of sex and the Juvenile Justice Act talked only about children between 6 and 8 years of age.
Throwing light on the complexity of the issue, Kanth said human trafficking was related not only to prostitution but also with forced marriage, child sex and organ transplant. He said the present definition was itself so complex that it was creating problem in tackling the real issue.

Addressing the inaugural function, DGP Abhayanand said human trafficking was the worst form of rights violation and reiterated the Bihar police commitment to eliminate this evil from the state.

The DGP asked police officials to behave properly with victims of human trafficking, be alert about any information in this regard and take cognisance on priority basis.

Speaking on ‘Coordination: Police, community and civil society organization’, member of Bihar Public Service Commission and retired IPS officer, Rajyabardhan Sharma, said the local police should take the media help in busting the gangs involved in human trafficking. He, however, felt the media was not giving proper space to such serious issues.

State programme coordinator of Save the Children, Nitu Prasad, said the victims needed support as kids took to crime because of lack of awareness about law.

ADG (CID) A S Nimbran, IG Arbind Pandey and DIG Kamal Kishore were also present on the occasion.

Land Issues – JMM youth wing leader shot in Bokaro

BOKARO: Four motorbike-borne miscreants shot dead Amit Manjhi, district president of the Jharkhand Chatra Yuva Morcha (JCYM), students wing of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), while he was on his way to residence at Adarsh Cooperative under Sector-XII police station here on Saturday night. Land dispute with local builders is said to be the reason behind his murder.

Police have arrested three accused whom the kin of the deceased have named in the FIR soon after his murder. The incident has sparked off protest among JMM workers, who assembled at the Bokaro General Hospital (BGH) in large numbers and raised anti-slogans against district police demanding arrest of the murderers soon.

JMM leaders, including Basant Soren, youngest son of party chief Shibu Soren, and the state president of JCYM, Dumri MLA Jagarnath Mahto have given a 24-hour ultimatum to the district police officials to solve the case and arrest criminals or else the party workers will launch an agitation.

Based on the complaint lodged by elder brother of the deceased, Karamchand Manjhi, police have arrested Manoj Pandey, Virender Yadav and Pinto Singh alias Druv Kumar Singh from their homes. Pinto is a resident of Sector-VI, Yadav resides in Chas and Pandey is from Sector-XII. “We are interrogating the trio – all involbed in land business – to bring the truth. A few days ago, they have entered in an altercation with Manjhi because he was opposing them from leveling lands at Satanpur,” he said.

According to sources, the incident occurred on Saturday night when Manjhi was riding his motorbike on his way back home. The miscreants opened fire on his running motorbike following which he fell down. Manjhi struggled to escape but criminals again shot him dead. The local police reached the spot after residents informed them about the gun firing and recovered Manjhi’s body lying in a pool of blood around 300 meters from his motorbike near Adarsh Cooperative.

Police also found two country-made pistols along with two used cartridges from the spot. Criminals have shot four bullets on his head, hand and back side. Manjhi, son of a retired Bokaro Steel Ltd employee, was a resident of Bharat Ekta Cooperative. Before the incident, he had food at a makeshift shop with his father Jaleshwar Manjhi and mother in Sector XII/C Shopping Center. Later, he went alone saying that he will reach home soon.

Karamchand said two days ago, Pinto had called him on his phone and told him to stop Manjhi from interfering their business or it will be bad for him. However, a month ago Virender and Manjhi also had a fight over a land issue of which FIR has been lodged with the police station. “These builders were leveling a land which is worship place of tribal and Manjhi has stopped them doing so. This has developed enmity against Manjhi for them,” said Karmchand.

Basant Soren said, “The incident is very unfortunate. Manjhi was a good student leader and helped poors and so he has been targeted by land mafias. “The JMM has taken the incident very seriously and we will not remain quiet until each of the criminals will be sent behind bars,” he said. Bokaro SP Kuldeep Dwivedi said it was a planned murder following a land dispute. Police have arrested three accused and raids are on to nab other absconding person.

Probe reports point to land loot in Bokaro

  1. Bari cooperative colony,
  2. Manmohan Singh cooperative,
  3. Adarsh cooperative,
  4. Sattan hillocks,
  5. Chira Chas, Chas,
  6. Jogidih colony and
  7. Kuer Singh colony

The spectre of a land scam has raised its head in Bokaro with outgoing deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal saying that non-transferable land in various areas might have been sold off illegally by government officials.

This comes at a time a multi-crore scam involving 800 acres of non-transferable state and private land has rocked Deoghar.

In August, Kaushal had ordered an inquiry after laying hands on incriminating documents that suggest illegal sale of at least 20 acres at Bari cooperative colony, Manmohan Singh cooperative, Adarsh cooperative, Sattan hillocks, Chira Chas, Chas, Jogidih and Kuer Singh colony. The DC had formed a team, comprising deputy collectors and Chas (Bokaro) SDO Sudhir Ranjan, to conduct preliminary investigations.

The team inspected the sites under scanner and detected irregularities in allotment of land, including gair majrua, tribal land and forestland. They found out that even the Garga riverbed has been encroached upon.

“A massive land loot cannot be ruled out in Bokaro. But I do not want to take any measure in haste. Rather, all documents of the disputed land must be studied thoroughly first. If foul play is detected, an eviction drive will be carried out and the plots handed over to their rightful owners,” Kaushal, who has been transferred to Ramgarh as DC, said.

“But as I have been transferred, the ball will be now in the new deputy commissioner’s court,” he added.

Asked whether his transfer had anything to do with exposure of the land scam, the DC said: “No comments. It’s the prerogative of the government.”

Incidentally, the land controversy at Bari cooperative and nearby areas first broke in 2005-06 during the tenure of former deputy commissioner Amrendra Partap Singh (now industries secretary). Singh had also ordered an inquiry, but the matter was swept under the carpet soon after his transfer. Reports of illegal land dealings have also come from another posh locality, Lohanchal cooperative, prompting the deputy commissioner to stop the ongoing registration process of land there.