Bhim Army founder and Dalit rights activist Chandrashekhar Azad, who had been jailed in June 2017 after he was booked under the National Security Act in connection with the Saharanpur caste violence, was released from jail early Friday morning. He was to be released on November 1.
“The state government misused government machinery,” Azad said after his release, according to the Hindustan Times. “I will continue my fight for marginalised people against injustice.”
The activist said the government had ordered his release as they were scared that the Supreme Court would rebuke them for putting him in jail. “I am confident that they will frame some charges against me within 10 days. I will ask my people to throw BJP out of power in 2019,” he told reporters.
The Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday said the decision to release Azad was taken on sympathetic grounds in view of representations by his mother and the “current situation”.
Azad’s supporters gathered outside the Saharanpur jail at night waiting for him after news broke out that he would be released soon. However, the district administration released him early Friday morning to avoid chaos.
Several incidents of caste violence were reported from Saharanpur district in May 2017. On May 23, 2017, one person was killed and at least two others were injured in clashes. In June 2017, the Uttar Pradesh Police had arrested Azad in connection with the violence.
The Bhim Army is an organisation committed to the upliftment of the Dalit community in western Uttar Pradesh.
On November 2, 2017, the Allahabad High Court granted Azad and three others bail saying the charges against them were politically motivated. A day later, the Uttar Pradesh government slapped the National Security Act against the Dalit leader and five others.
The NSA allows the state to keep an accused in preventive detention for up to a year, and following that, the freedom to issue another order of preventive detention.