The big boys in the '80s were Hari Shankar Tiwari and Virendra Pratap Shahi, who divided Poorvanchal into two caste gangs—led by Tiwari, a Brahmin, and Shahi, a Thakur.
If Brijesh was a rising star in gangland, Mukhtar was no shrinking violet. By the early 1990s, Mukhtar had become a household name in UP for his daring criminal activities, and his high profile, especially in the districts of Mau, Ghazipur, Varanasi and Jaunpur. In 1996, he fought from the Mau assembly constituency as an independent and won the election. His rising profile made him a serious threat to Brijesh's area of clout. In 2001, Brijesh led an attack on Mukhtar's gang, killing three of the latter's aides, but was himself injured in the shootout. After that, Brijesh disappeared from the scene. The UP police are not sure if he is underground or dead.Brijesh's absence from the crime scene left Rai the unopposed leader of his gang. It was this rise in his status that helped him win the assembly elections. However, it was a victory that sharpened the enmity between the two gangs, which had been taking each other head-on for control of gangland business opportunities—especially since Rai was a smooth operator, adept at arranging contract deals.So, whether it was
BSNL's cable laying work, road construction by the PWD, or track electrification and track laying for the railways, the mafiosi took over everywhere. They also extorted on a huge scale from businesses in the region, whether construction, liquor or carpets.And, of course, coal. The gangs fought for a share in the huge sums of money to be made in the unloading and distribution of coal coming into three depots in Poorvanchal—at Varanasi, Mughalsarai and Chandasi—from the Northern Coal Fields of Dhanbad and from Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh. Each depot gets two to five racks of coal every month, each rack containing 3,500 tonnes of coal. There is big money to be made by surreptitiously mixing different grades of coal. According to a railway official, "The bahubalis make more than Rs 1 crore a day from the coal business."And it was because he provoked the ire of the rival gang by grabbing a contract for the distribution of coal worth Rs 50 crore from the Chandasi coal depot that Rai was apparently killed.Ansari has been named in the FIR registered by the police after Rai's murder. He is currently behind bars, but it remains to be seen what challenge emerges to his supremacy. Watch out for the next episode in the Poorvanchal gangland wars.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
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