Bhim Army members alleged that some inmates of the Saharanpur district jail had assaulted their chief, Chandrashekhar Azad, last week. The district administration and police have, however, denied the allegations.
Azad, a lawyer who had formed the group to fight caste discrimination, is currently lodged at the facility. An Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force had arrested Azad from Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh on June 8 for his alleged role in the violence in Saharanpur earlier this year.
On Sunday, a group of around 50 Bhim Army members and supporters gathered outside the Saharanpur district jail protesting against the district administration’s alleged inaction in connection with the matter. On Friday and Saturday, some of them had surrounded the district magistrate’s office, demanding action against the unidentified perpetrators involved in the incident.
Some Bhim Army members, currently in prison, told their relatives and friends about the assault, said Satish Gautam, who is in charge of the group in Saharanpur (rural). “We got to know that Chandrashekhar Azad and other members of Bhim Army were beaten up by some other inmates in the prison and that the jail authorities were aware of the incident. We raised the issue immediately and started organising protests. On Saturday, the district administration was given a 24-hour deadline to take action against the culprits.”
Gautam said that it was not Azad himself but some other jailed members of the group who had raised the matter.
Saharanpur District Magistrate P K Pandey ruled out the allegations of assault as baseless. “We have done a thorough enquiry and nothing as such has come up. The allegations originated from rumours and they are baseless,” he said, without divulging any further details about the enquiry.
CCTV footage has been checked and several persons, including Azad and other jail officials, were questioned about the incident, Senior Superintendent of Police (Saharanpur) Babloo Kumar said. “The inquiry is complete and it concludes that no physical assault has taken place,” Kumar said.
Both Pandey and Kumar said that Azad has signed a letter admitting that he was not physically assaulted.