Bhim Army press conference cancelled; govt pressure, cites IWPC members

In an attempt to subdue Dalit voices, the Indian Women Press Corp withdrew permission given to Bhim Army to hold a press conference on its premises. Bhim Army promises to hold Bharat Bandh

Bhim Army activists Himanshu Valmiki and Kamal Singh just outside IWPC
Bhim Army activists Himanshu Valmiki and Kamal Singh just outside IWPC

Ashlin Mathew

In an attempt to subdue Dalit voices, the Indian Women Press Corp withdrew permission given to Bhim Army to hold a press conference on its premises to highlight the atrocities against Dalit activists.

“What must be highlighted is that it is happening to an organisation which fights for SC/ST people. We have been told that they don’t permit religious or political programmes. We are neither. Such is the pressure on them by the government and this gives an idea of the lengths the government is willing to go to scuttle this programme, which is a genuine movement to secure the rights for the scheduled castes in the country,” underscored Mahmood Pracha, the lawyer for Chandrasekhar Azad of Bhim Army.

“The local SHO and police office began inquiring with us about the press conference. and then the President Jyoti Malhotra decided to cancel the press conference citing these rules. It is likely that it will be seen as an attack and subjugation of Dalit voices especially when IWPC has organised several events where politicians and political movements were allowed to hold press conferences on the premises,” said an IWPC committee member, who did not want to be identified.

Bhim Army, a social organisation fighting for Dalits, was scheduled to hold a press conference at IWPC to highlight the arrest of Bhim Army activists on Wednesday and demand for the construction of the Sant Ravidas temple, which was demolished. However, the permission given for the press conference was cancelled.

“The government does not want the voices of Dalit Bahujans to be amplified. “We will hold a Bharat Bandh in 10 days if the government does not agree to re-construct the temple. We will protest in accordance with our Constitutional rights,” explained Kamal Singh Walia, Bhim Army activist.

Arrest of Chandrasekhar Ravan, 95 others

The entire procedure which has been adopted for the arrest of Chandrasekhar Ravan is against the law. “The entire procedure which was adopted by police was against the law. In an unprecedented move, the court was held at the Kalkaji police station. Can there be a bigger irony? Chandrasekhar and the 95 others who were arrested were produced in the station where the district magistrate was called. Are we heading to police raj in this country,” asks Pracha.

According to ground reports, the Bhim Army activists were framed in the violence. “We have been set-up in this case. We held protests the whole day, then why was there no violence all day except when it became evening. It was clearly the work of miscreants not related to our group. Our activists were picked from the metro station and if they wanted to indulge in violence, they would have six hours ago during the protest,” said Walia.

“Groups which are against our protest and rights let loose miscreants in the cover of the night to ensure there is violence and damage. This is nothing but an attempt to tarnish the image of our group. If they can cancel our peaceful press conference, they can do anything,” said Himanshu Valmiki, Bhim Army activist.

“We will take a legal recourse. We are seeking the rebuilding of the temple because the DDA has demolished the Ravidas temple using forged documents. There is proof that it is a 600-year-old temple,” highlighted Pracha.

Schedule Caste temples are not a priority for Archaeological Survey of India or Intach, because they suffer from a Brahmanical and upper-caste mentality, stressed Pracha.

The group is confident of proving in the court that DDA used forged documents to demolish the temple.

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Published: 23 Aug 2019, 6:44 PM