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Archives for : September2018

UP Govt to Release Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad,after 15 months in Jail #Goodnews

After 15 Months in Jail, 

The Dalit rights activist, accused in the 2017 violence in Saharanpur and booked under the NSA, was to be released on November 1.

Chandrashekhar was booked for his alleged role in last year’s caste violence in Saharanpur district, involving Dalits and upper caste Thakurs.

In a major decision, the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday decided the early release from jail of Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Ravan, who is behind bars on NSA charges after last year’s Saharanpur caste violence. He was to be released on November 1.

Mr. Chandrashekhar was booked for his alleged role in last year’s caste violence in Saharanpur district, involving Dalits and upper caste Thakurs.

The UP department, which is under CM Adityanath himself, in a statement said the decision was taken on sympathetic grounds taking into consideration the representations by Mr. Chandrashekhar’s mother and the “current situation.”

The NSA allows the state government to detain any person it feels poses a ‘threat to the security of India’ or could ‘disrupt public order’. Its application is to be renewed every three months if the government is of the opinion that the person continues to be a threat. The application of NSA on Azad was last renewed in July and would have lapsed again in November.

Now, according to police sources in Saharanpur, they are waiting for the order to reach them and will release the three accused as soon as it does. Members of the Bhim army and Azad’s family have gathered outside the Saharanpur jail.

Azad’s family and Bhim Army member outside Saharanpur jail. Credit: Abrar Ahmed

“This is a victory for us and the confidence that people had in Chandrashekhar Azad. I also appeal to people to celebrate this occasion but abide by the constitutional values that we stand by,” said Kamal Walia, district president, Bhim Army, Saharanpur.

Violence broke out in Saharanpur last year after tensions had began in April over the installation of a Ambedkar statue in Shabbirpur. The Dalits wanted the statue to be installed in the Ravidas temple in the village and the dominant Thakur community objected. The police urged the Dalit community to not install the statue in the ‘interest of peace’.

On May 5, 2017, the Thakur community took out a procession commemorating Maharana Pratap. The Dalit community objected because the “DJ was too loud”. This led to violence as a mob armed with swords, thick bamboo sticks, country-made revolvers and bottles filled with petrol ransacked the Dalit ghetto of the village, burning down 55 homes. Several Dalits were grievously injured. One member of the Thakur community died. Five Dalits were booked for murder.

A few days after the violence, the Bhim Army – a small and relatively unknown Dalit social organisation at the time led by Azad – called for a mahapanchayat in Saharanpur town to protest against the violence in Shabbirpur. The police denied them permission and the protest turned violent as vehicles were set ablaze, stones were pelted and a police post was damaged.

Cases were registered against almost every known member of the Bhim Army, and they rose to national prominence while in hiding. Its founder, Chandrashekhar, a lawyer from the village of Chhutmalpur, gained the status of a young Dalit icon, and the Bhim Army became a symbol of Dalit assertion.

In June, Chandrashekhar was arrested along with several other members of the Bhim Army. The five Dalits from Shabbirpur charged with murder had already been arrested earlier.

On October 15, two of the five charged with murder were booked under the draconian NSA. A couple weeks later, on November 3, Chandrashekhar too was booked under the NSA, a day after he had been granted bail by the Allahabad high court on the charges that the police had filed.

The Hindu

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India – Dalit RTI Activist Murdered in Himachal, Kin Demand CBI Probe

The RTI activist was attacked and then run over by a Scorpio on Friday, 7 September.

The RTI activist was attacked and then run over by a Scorpio on Friday, 7 September.(Photo: Ashish Kumar/Altered by The Quint)

Days after the alleged murder of Dalit RTI activist Kedar Singh Jindan in Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmaur district, his family has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the matter. Under pressure, the slain activist’s wife and daughters have shifted to Shimla, The Quint has learned.

WHAT WE KNOW

Kedar Singh Jindan was allegedly murdered on Friday, 7 September, while he was on his way back home. The RTI activist was first attacked and then run over by a Scorpio, the Himachal Watcher reported.

Initially thought of as an accident, the police later registered a murder case against the SUV owner and up-Pradhan of Bakras gram panchayat, Jai Prakash, and Gopal Singh under Section 302 of the IPC, ANI reported.

Both the accused were arrested on Saturday, 8 September, after outrage mounted over the inaction of the police for the same. Social activists and locals protested on Saturday, demanding security for Jindan’s wife and family.

Photo of the Scorpio that ran over Kedar Singh Jindan.
Photo of the Scorpio that ran over Kedar Singh Jindan.
(Photo Courtesy: Ashish Kumar District Secretary, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, Sirmaur)

Several people from different organisations took out a protest march in Nahan under the banner of Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch. A memorandum was also submitted to additional deputy commissioner Aditya Negi to demand action, The Times of India reported.

Ashish Kumar, the district secretary of the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch of Sirmaur, told The Quint that the protests died down after the police arrested the Panchayat officials.

WHAT THE FAMILY AND THE EYE-WITNESSES ARE SAYING

The eyewitness and family members have alleged that those accused in the murder are influential people, and therefore they feel unsafe in the region.

Many from the victim’s family did not attend the cremation out of fear, Ashish Kumar told The Quint. The protesters further alleged that there were five people who were involved in the murder, The Wire reported.

Hem Lata, wife of the slain RTI activist, told ANI:

“My husband was the only bread earner and now there is nobody in the family to take care. He had already asked for security as he was threatened for life and police did not take any action. He was attacked by these people earlier also.”

She told The Statesman that the culprits should be hanged to death. Fearing a threat to her life and the lives of her family members, she has also demanded police security.

Sita Ram Bansal, state president of Welfare Association of Schedule Caste and Tribe Employees, told ANI that there had been a attempt to take his life earlier as well and despite asking for protection, the police failed to provide him support.

People crowd at the funeral of slain RTI activist.
People crowd at the funeral of slain RTI activist.
(Photo Courtesy: Ashish Kumar, District Secretary, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, Sirmaur)
“The deceased was fighting social issues in the society and he had already demanded security, but police failed to provide it and he was murdered. The witness in the case is also a daily wage government employee and has demanded his posting at a safe place as his life could also be a threat. The Association has also demanded to refer the case to the CBI and has also asked for a job for his wife.”
Sita Ram Bansal

Member of CPM state secretariat, Rakesh Singh, said it was the inability of the government to provide security to the weak and the Dalits that led to the murder of the RTI activist.

WHAT THE POLICE IS SAYING

Himachal Pradesh police chief Sita Ram Mardi on Wednesday, 12 September, claimed that the activist had never sought police protection as he never felt any threat to his life.

According to the police, the autopsy report indicated that it was a case of murder. On Wednesday, DGP Sita Ram Mardi told PTI:

“Jindan had met me in my Shimla office but never felt any threat to his life nor he demanded any security.”
DGP Sita Ram Mardi

The DGP accompanied by Sirmaur Superintendent of Police Rohit Malpani told reporters that a Special Investigative Team (SIT) has been constituted to investigate the case and it was doing a good job.

Police added that three arrests have been made in connection with the death.

THE BACKDROP

In June, at a press conference in Shimla, Jindal had claimed that 6 families related to panchayat people got government jobs using fake BPL certificates.

He had alleged that by forging records using his position in the panchayat, Jai Prakash had managed to get government jobs for his family members in government jobs, Himachal Watcher reported.

He had raised several issues of atrocities on the lower class by the higher class. He had unsuccessfully contested Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections thrice on BSP and NCP tickets from Shillai seat.

THE IMPACT

According to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative which maps cases of attacks on RTI users, there had been 419 cases of such attacks till August 20, and 72 people had lost their lives. The attack on Jindan takes the toll up to 73.

(With inputs from PTI) Quint

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