Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad released from jail, says he will ensure BJP’s rout in 2019

He was arrested from Himachal Pradesh’s Dalhousie in June 2017 in connection with the May 5 caste violence in which one person was killed and 16 were injured at Shabbirpur village in Saharanpur.

September 14, 2018 06:16 pm | Updated 10:48 pm IST - New Delhi

 Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad in Saharanpur after his release from jail on September 14, 2018.

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad in Saharanpur after his release from jail on September 14, 2018.

Chandrashekhar Azad, alias Ravan, founder of Ambedkarite outfit Bhim Army, walked out of the Saharanpur jail in the early hours of Friday after spending more than a year behind bars in connection with the caste violence between Thakurs and Dalits in the district.

Soon after his release, which was met with loud chants of ‘Jai Bhim’ by hundreds of supporters gathered outside the prison, the Dalit youth leader vowed to “teach a lesson to the goondas of BJP” and topple its government in 2019 for sending innocent Dalits to jail.

“I won’t sleep and let anyone sleep till the throne is toppled in 2019,” he said. The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday decided to revoke the NSA lodged against Mr. Azad and release him from jail before the scheduled date on November 1. The State Home Department, which falls under the CM himself, issued directions to the district administration for the release, saying the decision was taken on sympathetic grounds taking into consideration the representations by Mr. Azad’s mother and the “current situation”.

Mr. Azad and other Bhim Army activists were arrested in June 2017 for their alleged involvement in the caste violence that erupted in Saharanpur.

Last November, a day after he was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court, the Yogi Adityanath government slapped the NSA on him , putting him under detention.

After the HC in April dismissed his petition to quash the NSA, Mr. Azad last month challenged his detention under in the Supreme Court, which then issued notices to the State government. The matter was to come up for hearing.

PTI adds..

''It’s time for the real battle''

Mr. Azad walked out of the jail around 2.40 a.m. as hundreds of his supporters, wearing blue Bhim Army caps, gathered outside the prison to celebrate his release, the Dalit group’s national spokesperson Manjeet Singh Nautiyal said.

Many thronged his residence and distributed sweets in the neighbourhood while a section of his admirers made a beeline for clicking a selfie with the Dalit leader. “The Bhim Army will not buckle under pressure from the government and will fight in a constitutional manner to throw the BJP out of power in the general election,” he said.

Mr. Azad claimed that he met several inconsolable youngsters inside the jail who were ''falsely implicated by the police'' due to their caste.

He said his stay inside the prison had strengthened his resolve to fight against the alleged atrocities being committed against Dalits. “It’s a very long constitutional fight for our rights. It’s time for the real battle. The Bhim Army was faltering in the absence of a leader, but I have returned now,” the 31-year-old leader said.

Mr. Azad said he was given “dry rotis” in the prison and his family was not allowed to meet him.

“All that I went through, I will make sure to return it to the BJP with interest in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” he said, adding that he would not contest the coming elections. The government was playing politics on the SC/ST Act issue and the Dalit community would give a befitting answer to the BJP in the 2019 elections.

“The March 20 Supreme Court judgment diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was based on the government’s views against the law,” he said. “Now, they have passed an amendment bill to restore the original version of the Act. We know what they are trying to do.”

Sources in the State BJP said the Bhim Army had played a big part in the win of joint BSP-SP-RLD candidate Tabassum Hasan in the recent Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll.

Mr. Azad had written a letter from inside the jail, asking Bhim Army cadres to campaign in support of Ms. Hasan and trounce the BJP.

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