Saharanpur clashes- Bhim Army head Chandrashekhar Azad, 'mastermind', arrested
Chandrashekhar Azad 'Ravan', head of the Dalit rights outfit Bhim Army, has been arrested from Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh. The 30-year-old lawyer masterminded the May 9 communal clashes in Saharanpur, police say. UP Police had recently declared a reward of Rs. 12,000 for information on Azad. The activist had also offered to surrender at a massive rally at Delhi's Jantar Mantar.
Saharanpur clashes- Thousands of Dalits protest at Jantar Mantar
Over 5,000 Dalit protesters gathered at Delhi's Jantar Mantar on May 21, demanding justice over the recent clashes in Saharanpur. Police had denied permission, but Dalits associated with the Bhim Army, the All India Students' Association, and other organizations turned up. Earlier in May, over two dozen houses of Dalits in Saharanpur were allegedly set ablaze by another community in retaliation against previous clashes.
Tension has been simmering in Saharanpur since April 20, when a rally in tribute of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was blocked at Doodhli. Stone-pelting and firing followed. On May 5, Dalits of Shabbirpur objected to a procession dedicated to Maharana Pratap by the Thakur community. Thousands then gheraoed the village and set fire to two dozen houses of Dalits. At least one person was killed.
Compensation, judicial probe: Demands of the protesters
Police said Dalit unions had earlier sought permission for a gathering of 50,000 protesters, which was denied. However, thousands gathered, led by Bhim Army chief Chander Shekhar, former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and activist Jignesh Mewani. The protesters demanded a judicial probe into the May 5 violence and compensation for Dalits whose homes were burnt. They also alleged mistreatment by the Uttar Pradesh government.
The Dalit uprising: From Una to Saharanpur
India saw a never-before massive uprising of the Dalits last July when a few youths in Gujarat's Una were publicly stripped and tortured for skinning dead cows. Thousands had taken to the streets and protested the apathy of the masses. The Jantar Mantar protest is reminiscent of that movement, which had lost steam since then.