LUCKNOW: Following its decision over the early release of the founder of Bhim Army Chandrashekhar Azad alias Ravan, the Uttar Pradesh government freed the Dalit leader in the wee hours at 2:37 am from a Saharanpur jail on Friday almost two months prior to his scheduled release on November 1, 2018, on humanitarian grounds.
According to highly placed sources, the district magistrate of Saharanpur was directed by the home department to release Chandrashekhar, who was accorded a warm welcome by thousands of his supporters gathered in front of Saharanpur jail. After his release from the jail, the Dalit leader was escorted in a police vehicle which was followed by his supporters on bikes chanting slogans. However, calling his release the victory of justice, Chandrashekhar appealed to his supporters to maintain peace.
Notably, Chandrashekhar had been in jail since his arrest in June last year. He was arrested after caste clashes in western Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur, which left at least two persons dead and many injured. After his arrest on charges of inciting violence and rioting, National Security Act was also invoked against him and five of his accomplices. He has been released was to be released in November.
ALSO READ: Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar arrested
In a release issued to media on Thursday night, the home department had claimed that the decision for early release of the Dalit leader was taken in view of repeated pleas of his ailing mother and the changed circumstances.
The Bhim Army was set up around three years ago in Saharanpur and has its network across seven states of the country with considerable popularity among members of the Dalit community. The Bhim Army also runs some 300 pathshalas for community children. However, the emergence of Bhim Army in western UP has been seen as an alternative by those members of the Dalit community who stand disenchanted with Bahujan Samaj Party supremo and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.
Notably, Azad was arrested jointly by Saharanpur police and a special task force of UP police from Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh on June 8, 2018. He had been incarcerated for his alleged role in Saharanpur caste violence case and was charged under the draconian National Security Act. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to probe the caste violence in Saharanpur in August filed the charge sheet against Chandra Shekhar and 110 others. He was charged with 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon) and 153A of the Indian Penal Code among others.
The Allahabad HC had granted him bail on November 2, 2017, in four cases but the state government had immediately slapped NSA on him on the recommendation of Saharanpur District magistrate thus extending his stay in jail. According to highly placed sources, legal aides and top leaders of Bhim Army were contacted by the UP government on Thursday afternoon and given the information about his early release. Two of Azad's aides, whose jail terms were till October 14, will also be released early along with him, the government statement said.