Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, the founder of Bhim Army Bharat Ekta Mission (Bhim Army) who has been granted an early release from Saharanpur jail late Thursday night, was once at a centre of faith for millions of lower castes people and other marginalised sections in the society. The Bhim Army chief hails from Saharanpur village located in Western part of Uttar Pradesh.
Early life and social activity:
Chandrashekhar, popularly known as Ravan is a social activist and refers to himself as 'Great Chamar' (Tanner or shoemaker). The Uttar Pradesh activist, who established Bhim Army in collaboration with Vinay Ratan Arya in 2016, works for the emancipation of minority section through education in India. Ravan also runs more than 300 free schools for backward classes in Uttar Pradesh.
Detention in connection to Saharanpur violence:
However, the situation took a violent turn in 2017 after caste clashes became very frequent in Uttar Pradesh. The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force arrested Azad for allegedly spreading violence across the state. The social activist was imprisoned under the National Security Act (NSA) which allows the arrest of anyone under "preventive detention" at Saharanpur.
Azad's detention came on the heels of the Saharanpur Caste Violence incident, which took place on May 11, 2017, leaving one dead and several others injured.
Protest rallies opposing the politically motivated move:
Post that, several big rallies had been organised at Jantar-Mantar, New Delhi where thousands of lower caste people gathered under the banner of Bhim Army, protesting against the atrocities they continue to face. Their demands include the release of their chief Chandrashekhar Azad.
Though the Allahabad high court later granted Azad bail, saying that the arrests were politically motivated, the Bhim Army chief continued to be imprisoned by Uttar Pradesh government under a clutch of false charges in defiance of the court's order.
Expressing his ideas and thoughts on the politically motivated imprisonment, Azad once said, "My greatest desire is to work for society, but the BJP will make sure I never leave prison. I cannot appear to be despondent or break down before someone with tears in my eyes for the simple reason that the spirit of my community has been broken so often that there is only one option left for us now – of struggle".
Granted early release:
On Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh government decided to release the Bhim Army chief after going through the representation of his mother. However, under the NSA, Chandrasekhar was to be detained till November 1.
The NSA was invoked against Chandrashekhar and five others in the Saharanpur violence case. While three people were released earlier, Chandrashekhar, Sonu and Shiv Kumar continued to be imprisoned till the time. According to reports, Sonu and Shiv Kumar will also be released anytime soon.