More than a year after he was arrested for his alleged role in stoking caste violence, Uttar Pradesh government has released Dalit leader and chief of Bhim Army Chandrashekhar Azad.
The 30-year-old law graduate walked out of the jail at around 2:40 am on Friday after he was arrested in June 2017 in connection with the May 5 caste violence in Shabbirpur village of UP’s Saharanpur. The violence had left one person dead and 16 others injured. Dozens of houses were also torched in the group clashes.
His release was greeted by dozens of his supporters who had come to jail after government announced its decision.
According to PTI, the Allahabad High Court had granted him bail on November 2, 2017. However, police booked him under the stringent National Security Act days before his release. Under the NSA, he was to be detained till November 1.
Co-founder of Bhim Army, Azad has mobilized thousands of Dalits under his outfit to work for the education of children from marginalized castes. Bhim Army has a network of 300 schools spread across seven states, reports said.
However, the outfit also serves as a ‘protection force’ against the violence by upper castes. A crowd-puller, Azad’s daredevil image has attracted thousands of Dalit youth to his outfit.
Many are linking Azad’s release with BJP’s intention of garnering Dalit votes ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, that seems to have backfired as Azad fiercely criticized BJP government after his release and said that his outfit will ensure a rout of BJP in 2019 elections.
“The Bhim Army will not buckle under pressure from the government and will fight in a constitutional manner to throw the BJP out of power in the general elections,” Azad told reporters.