Bhim Army activists demonstrate during Hunkar Rally at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to demand the release of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’, on January 9, 2018.
Human rights advocacy group Amnesty India on Thursday, September 13 hailed the Uttar Pradesh govt’s decision to release Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ as a victory for human rights
Uttar Pradesh Govt orders early release from jail of Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar alias Ravan, who is jailed under NSA charges in connection with 2017 Saharanpur caste violence case. He would be released on November 1 pic.twitter.com/GOsnHTIsTO
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) September 13, 2018
News agency ANI on Thursday, September 13 reported that the Uttar Pradesh Government had “ordered early release from jail of Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar alias Ravan, who is jailed under NSA charges in connection with 2017 Saharanpur caste violence case. He would be released on November 1”.
Human rights advocacy group Amnesty India hailed the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision, tweeting “The Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to release Bhim Army leader, Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ is a massive win for human rights in India!”.
Amnesty India’s Executive Director Aakar Patel also tweeted saying “I met Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ earlier this week and his release is a relief to everyone who is working for Dalit rights, it’s a tremendous victory for human rights! The UP government now must ensure that he is not targeted and is not incarcerated again without a fair trial.” Patel had on September 10 led an Amnesty delegation to meet the jailed Azad in Saharanpur in north-west Uttar Pradesh.
In an article about Chandrashekhar Azad’s long imprisonment without charge published on this website in May this year, Patel had said “In November 2017, the Uttar Pradesh government jailed the Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan without a case. He was booked under the National Security Act. Under the NSA, Chandrashekhar Azad does not have any of the human rights protections that are part of ordinary criminal procedure and fair trial standards. He can be jailed for 12 months without charge or trial. On his release, if he is released, he can be put back again under some other detention law.” Patel has said that “Indians protesting Rowlatt Act, which called for preventive detention, were massacred at Jallianwala [Bagh] in 1919. What’s happening now with Dalit icon Chandrashekhar Azad is akin to preventive detention.”
— Amnesty India (@AIIndia) September 13, 2018
NDTV said “The decision to withdraw NSA and release Azad is being seen as BJP’s move to reach out to Dalits ahead of 2019 elections and comes just weeks after it faced Dalit ire for Supreme Court’s alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act.”
Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ to be released earlier than November 1
Azad, arrested under the NSA for his alleged role in a 2017 caste conflict in Saharanpur, was due to be released on November 1 this year, but will be prematurely released, a UP state govt official has said.
The state government has directed the Saharanpur district magistrate for the release of the Bhim Sena chief and two of his aides, principal secretary Arvind Kumar said. The decision for the premature release of the Bhim Sena chief is based on a request made through a representation by his mother, said Kumar.
The BJP government has also decided to set free, also before time, two accomplices of the Bhim Sena chief—Sonu and Shiv Kumar. They were to be released on November 14 this year. With this, all accused held under the NSA in the May 2017 caste conflict have been set free.
I met Chandrashekhar Azad 'Ravan' earlier this week and his release is a relief to everyone who is working for dalit rights, it's a tremendous victory for human rights!
The UP government now must ensure that he is not targeted and is not incarcerated again without a fair trial. pic.twitter.com/Y8RGobWpbW
— Aakar Patel (@aakar_amnesty) September 13, 2018
Three other associates of Azad were released on September 7 this year.
The Bhim Sena chief is an advocate by profession. He formed the pro-Dalit Bhim Army Bharat Ekta Mission in July 2015.