Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who was granted bail by a Delhi court on Wednesday, on Friday reached the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, hours before his deadline to leave the city expired, News18 reported. Azad, along with other people protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, read out the Preamble to the Indian Constitution.
“I am following the law and not violating any bail condition,” Azad told reporters before he entered the mosque. Azad had been granted bail on the conditions that he leave the national Capital within 24 hours of his release from jail and stay out of the city for the next four weeks in view of the upcoming Delhi elections. The Bhim Army chief was released from jail on Thursday.
Azad, who will be escorted back to his home in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur city on Friday, has to check in with the station house officer there every Saturday for the next four weeks. Following that, he will have to mark his presence before the officer every month till the chargesheet is filed.
Azad had sought special permission from the court for the visit to Jama Masjid, The Times of India reported. “Peaceful protest is our strength,” he told the people gathered at the mosque. “People from all religions who support us should join us in great numbers to prove it to the government that these protests are not led by Muslims alone.”
Loudspeakers outside the mosque urged the protestors to demonstrate peacefully without pelting stones or committing arson. The Bhim Army chief visited a temple at RK Ashram Marg before heading to the Jama Masjid, and planned to visit the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara and a church too.
Azad, who has to leave Delhi before 9 pm, told the media that his primary concern was to make people aware of the citizenship law and not fight elections in Delhi, PTI reported. “My priority is to make people aware about the discriminatory citizenship law, mobilise people against it... It is time to strengthen this movement, politics can happen later,” he added.
The Dalit leader said his outfit’s protest against the Citizenship Act would continue. “We request the court to allow us to protest,” he added. “The government is spreading misinformation on the issue, we are checking it.”
Azad said the court had asked him to respect Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I want to ask him to respect the Constitution,” he added.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and notified on January 10, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 26 people have so far died in clashes between the police and the demonstrators around the country.