Green patches have sprung from the season’s first rain at Shankarbigha, a village about 70 km from Patna. In the heart of it, Sona Jhari’s eyes could still see the bloodstains that darkened the dusty courtyard of her home on the eve of Republic Day, 1999. She was just over 20 when it happened. Men of Ranvir Sena, a militia of the privileged castes, descended upon the Dalit village. In the massacre that followed, 23 people lay dead—among them were Jhari’s two children, two and three years of age, her mother-in-law and her brother-in-law. She was hit too. The barrel of a gun took her down and she fainted.
Their only crime was they were Dalits. “I want to kill those who killed my children. But I am powerless,” she says.