Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and its Delhi unit head, Himanshu Balmiki, have been detained by the Uttar Pradesh police while they were on their way to Hathras, accompanying the family of a 19-year-old Dalit gangrape victim, Azad’s associates alleged on Wednesday.
Senior Aligarh police officials denied knowledge about the matter.
According to functionaries of the Azad Samaj Party, which was launched by the Bhim Army chief in March, Mr. Azad and Mr. Balmiki went missing after 10 pm on Tuesday while they were on their way to Hathras, accompanying the family of the gangrape victim, who died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday.
The Azad Samaj Party and affiliates of the pro-Dalit Bhim Army, among others, had joined the protests outside the Safdarjung hospital in the national capital on Tuesday to demand justice for the gang rape victim and her family.
“There is no clue about the location of Azad and Balmiki after they reached the Jewar toll plaza to get on the lane to Tappal, Aligarh,” Azad Samaj Party’s core committee member Ravindra Bhati said.
He alleged that Mr. Azad and Mr. Balmiki were detained during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday, but the police were not making it public.
The body of the gang rape victim was cremated in Hathras in the early hours of Wednesday, with her family members alleging that the local police forced them to perform the last rites at the dead of night.
Local police officers, however, told PTI that the victim was cremated “according to the wishes of the family“.
Around 12.30 pm on Wednesday, dozens of Azad Samaj Party and Bhim Army activists reached the Tappal police station in Aligarh and staged a demonstration.
“A delegation of our representatives will be meeting senior police and administration officials to inquire about Azad and Balmiki,” Mr. Bhati told the protesters inside the Tappal police station compound.
When contacted, a senior Aligarh police official said, “I have no idea about this (detention) claim.”
The district police chief and some other senior officers could not be contacted as according to another police official, they have been infected with the coronavirus and are under medication for the last three-four days.