The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force on Thursday arrested Dalit rights activist and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar, who is a key accused in the Saharanpur violence, from Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh. Chandrasekhar has been evading arrest since May when caste-related clashes broke out between the Dalit and the upper-caste Thakur communities.
Ravi Kumar Gautam, leader of the Bhim Army’s youth wing, confirmed the arrest. “Chandrashekhar was in Himachal Pradesh where he was arrested by a team of UP Police,” he told CNN-News18. “They came to Himachal Pradesh in civil dress and took him away.” Chandrasekhar is believed to be the mastermind behind the May 9 attack when a police chowki was set on fire and several vehicles were torched by an angry mob.
Earlier this week, he had said that he willing to surrender if 37 ‘innocent’ dalits are released on bail. “I feel that the UP government has failed to address the issues of the Dalits,” Chandrasekhar had told PTI. “There have been more cases of atrocities against the Dalits in the past two-and-a-half months as compared to last one year.”
On Wednesday, two other members of the Bhim Army were arrested in Saharanpur for their alleged role in the caste clashed in Ramnagar on May 9. “Bhim Army’s Deoband Vidhan Sabha President Deepak Kumar and Saharanpur District President Praveen Gautam have been arrested from near Sun City Colony at Malhipur Road,” said Saharanpur city Circle Officer Mukesh Chandra Mishra, according to The Indian Express. The duo have been sent to judicial custody.
Several incidents of caste violence were reported from the region last month. On May 23, one person was killed and at least two others were injured in clashes.