On Friday, a day after being granted bail by the Allahabad High Court, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad “Ravan” was charged under the undemocratic National Security Act (NSA). The NSA gives the government the powers of preventive detention – which means a person can be incarcerated indefinitely on suspicion alone, to “prevent” them from compromising the security of the country. No actual crime is necessary.
However, Azad remained undeterred. As he was escorted to the police vehicle, he stated (video above), “Humaari ladai koi ek vyakti se nahi hai. Humaari ladai hai nyay ke liye. Aur jeetenge hum log. Aakhri samay tak ladenge. Aakhri samay tak Daliton ke nyay ke liye.” (Our fight is not with any one individual. Our fight is for justice, and we will win it. We will fight till the end. We will fight till the end to get justice for Dalits.)
Following clashes in May between the Bhim Army – a Dalit rights organisation – and the Uttar Pradesh police in Saharanpur, Chandrashekhar was accused by the UP government of fomenting violence and inciting riots. He was arrested in June by the Saharanpur police from Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, for his involvement in the Saharanpur riots.
The Dalit activists, however, blamed the police for the violence, stemming from attacks against Dalit homes by upper caste people.
The Allahabad High Court observed that the charges against Chandrashekhar were “politically motivated” and granted him bail on several rioting charges, leading to draconian measures from the Adityanath administration in UP.
Here’s what Neetu Gautam, the chief of the Bhim Army in Shamli district, had to say about Chandrashekhar’s arrest and the imposition of NSA: