Statement by Indian Workers Association(Great Britain)
Chandrashekar Azad, one of the leader and founder of the Bhim Army in UP, was arrested from Himachal Pardesh on Thursday 8th June. He has been falsely accused of spearheading the Saharanpur violence. All he and his Bhim Army were asking for was the right to hold a mahapanchayat to discuss the recent Hindutava violence on the Muslim and Dalit community and demand the culprits be brought to justice.
April 20: BJP MP Raghav Lakhanpal led a march of some rightwing Hindu activist in a Muslim dominated village of Sadak Dudhli. The rally was taken out to mark Ambedkar Jayanti with a deliberate aim of driving a wedge between the Dalits and Muslims in the area. The Dalits realised this and were not interested in taking part. The Dalits did not want to upset the recently formed unity in action with the Muslims community. In fact the Dalits had already celebrated Ambedkar Jayanti on 14 April. Clashes broke out between the BJP supporters and the Muslims.
May 5: Thakurs in a clear act of asserting their upper caste dominance, egged on by the Yogi Adityanath government in UP, organised a procession to mark the birth anniversary of a Rajput king in the Dalit neighbourhood, village Shabbirpur. Some reports say that Ambedkar’s statute was attacked and that anti-Ambedkar slogans were raised by the BJP supporters. Other reports allege the processions were held without permission from the administration and were therefore illegal. According to Bhim Army national president, Vinay Ratan Singh, this provocative act took place under the watchful eyes of the police. The incident led to violence between the two sides, resulting in one Thakur killed, 15 Dalits in hospital and 22 Dalits homes burnt. Ratan says that there needs to be a proper unbiased enquiry to establish how the violence was started and those guilty of burning, looting and causing grievance injuries must be brought to account.
May 9: The Bhim Army had asked for a mahapanchayat in Saharanpur to protest against the atrocities on Dalits and police inaction. The police denied permission but many people had gathered anyway. Clashes took place between the Bhim Army supporters and the police. Dalits were beaten up, rubber bullets were fired and at least six Dalits protesters arrested. In response to police violence the Bhim Army led a rally in Jantar Mantar, Delhi, where tens of thousands attended. Shaken by the organising power and the huge following of the Bhim Army, claimed to be at least 10 lakh nationally, the UP state authority has registered several FIR against the Chandrashekar Azad. The charges are all trumped up and designed to put the leader behind bars in order to inflict damage on the Bhim Army and silence their protest.
It has now become routine police procedure that any Muslim resistance is labelled as Islamic terrorist and any Dalit resistance is labelled as Naxalism. All progress people must raise their collective voice against the fascist Hindutava forces and against the state forces that are eroding the democratic space of the Dalits, Tribals, Women, Muslims and other oppressed minority sections India.
We demand immediate unconditional release of Chandrashekar Azad and other members of the Bhim Army.
Central Organising Committee
Indian Workers Association (Great Britain)