Chandrashekhar Azad, the Bhim Army chief, has been arrested once again. He was arrested in Deoband. Immediately after the arrest, his health deteriorated and he was rushed to Meerut Hospital. At present, his supporters are protesting his arrest. There are reports of unrest among Dalits in many villages.
Chandrashekhar Azad was taking out a Bahujan Hunkar Rally on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Kanshi Ram, the founder of Bahujan Samaj Party. Hundreds of his supporters were accompanying him on motor cycles. Many leaders, including the former legislator of Bijnor, Mohammad Ghazi, were also there.
This rally started from the Ravi Das Ashram in Saharanpur on March 11 and the Bhim Army supporters had stopped overnight at Deoband. Kamal Singh Valia, the Saharanpur district president of Bhim Army, a close associate of Chandrashekhar, has said that the Uttar Pradesh government has been trying to stifle their voice. “This will be given an appropriate response. Bhim Army will not give in to such pressures,” he said.
According to Kamal Singh, when Chandrashekhar was being taken to Meerut Hospital, the police manhandled some of Bhim Army workers and supporters and threatened them too.
A heavy police force was deployed on Rohana toll on Deoband-Muzaffarnagar road. Here also the police detained Bhim Army workers and supporters who were wearing the Bhim Army bands around their necks. This rally was organised by Bhim Army and Azad Social and Educational Development Foundation. According to the scheduled programme, this rally reached Deoband on March 11. On Tuesday, they were scheduled for a night’s stay at Begrajpur. After this, they had to reach Meerut on March 13 and Ghaziabad on March 14. The rally was scheduled to culminate at Janta Mantar in New Delhi on March 15.
According to the intelligence reports received by the police, this rally was spreading restlessness among the Dalit youths and it would have threatened the law and order situation of the state. A heavy police force was deployed to arrest Chandrashekhar under the leadership of SP, city, Vineet Bhatnagar. According to Waseem Akram of Azad Foundation, the police behaved in a very unprofessional and abusive manner with the party workers. “But we will not let them break Chandrshekhar Bhai’s courage and will,” Akram said.
Chandrashekhar Azad has been quite active for the last one week. Only a day before, he had warned the alliance that if they do not make their stand on Dalit issues clear, then he will also have to reconsider his support. The SSP of Saharanpur has not given any statement on this arrest.
The administration is considering this rally as an apparent violation of the Model Code of Conduct and there are reports that a court case will be filed against Chandrashekhar and many other leaders participating in the rally.
At present, Chandrashekhar has been admitted to Anand Hospital in Meerut. Devendra Singh, who was accompanying him, said that his blood pressure suddenly shot up and he complained of chest pain too. Bhim Army supporters have gathered in large numbers outside the hospital and the police force has also been deputed in sufficient numbers.
It is important to recall that Chandrashekhar was named as main accused in the violence that took place on May 9 last year. He was then arrested from Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, under the draconian National Security Act (NSA). He remained in jail for 16 months and became the Dalit youth icon. His arrest can have ripple effects on the Dalits in Western Uttar Pradesh.