Caste

Dalit Rights Group Seeks NHRC Intervention In NSA Charge Against Bhim Army’s Chandrashekhar

The Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch has urged the rights body to address the ‘grave injustice and human rights violation’ against the Bhim Army chief, in custody since June 8.

Bhim Army supporters. Credit: PTI

Bhim Army supporters. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch (DSMM) has written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) requesting the body to urgently intervene and address the “grave injustice and human rights violation” against Bhim Army’s Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ and two others.

In a letter dated November 13 and addressed to NHRC chairperson Justice H.L. Dattu, the Manch – an umbrella group of organisations fighting caste oppression in the country – has detailed the alleged false arrest of Chandrashekhar and the charges slapped on the Dalit rights group founder by the Uttar Pradesh government under the National Security Act (NSA).

The organisation has also brought attention to Chandrashekhar’s deteriorating health when he was kept in Saharanpur jail, which then led to him being admitted to Meerut District Hospital. The DSMM has requested the human rights body to intervene in the case.

In early November, the Allahabad high court had granted bail to Chandrashekhar, who was arrested on June 8 in connection with the Thakur-Dalit clash in UP’s Saharanpur district. The very next day, however, the Adityanath-led government slapped NSA charges on him.

Before getting bail on November 2, the Bhim Army leader had been lodged in Saharanpur district jail since June 8 on charges of inciting violence and destroying public property in a case related to the agitation. The struggle was sparked by a series of clashes that erupted between Dalits and Thakurs of Shabbirpur village in UP between April 20 and May 23. Since then, the state administration has projected the Bhim Army as having Naxalite links.

The letter also mentions the alleged false arrest of two other Dalits including Shiv Kumar, the sarpanch of Shabbirpur and Shri Soni, both of whom have also been charged under the NSA by the UP government.

According to Subhashini Ali, CPI(M) politburo member and vice president of the DSMM, several women of Shabbirpur village have been on hunger strike demanding the release the three. Many among them have even had to be moved to the hospital due to their deteriorating health.

This is the second time in recent months that the organisation has sought the intervention of the human rights body. In May, DSMM members had met with the NHRC chairperson to apprise him of the attacks against Dalits of Shabbirpur village at the hands of upper castes on May 5. According to Ali, several homes of the village had been burnt down, and women and children had sustained injuries in sword attacks, prompting the need for NHRC’s intervention.

At that time too, Dattu had been warned of the likelihood of false cases being registered against the victims.

According to the DSMM, the state government has maintained complete silent on these issues and “are displaying contempt for the victims.”

The Rajasthan arm of the organisation held demonstrations across the state on Monday, November 13, to demand the withdrawal of NSA against the three men and the UP state committee of the CPI(M) is set to hold similar demonstrations in all districts of the state on November 15.

The DSMM’s letter to the NHRC chief is reproduced below.

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Respected Shri Dattuji,

On 19th May you had very kindly granted us an appointment despite your ill-health. On that occasion we had spoken to you in detail regarding the terrible attack on Dalit women and children and also on the homes and properties of Dalits belonging to Shabbirpur village, Saharanpur District (UP) on May 5th, 2017. The attack had been carried out by upper-caste people who had collected in a mob on that day. (A copy of our memorandum is attached).

Unfortunately, the Govt. of UP has done nothing to bring the culprits to book not have they given the affected dalits compensation. On the contrary, they have resorted to draconian measures to ‘teach the dalits a lesson’.

We had mentioned our apprehension of the fact that dalits would be subjected to false cases being registered against them and would be harassed in every way. Most unfortunately, that is what has happened. Many dalits including Shiv Kumar (Sarpanch, Shabbirpur) have been arrested under very harsh and false charges. Shri Chandrashekhar of the Bhim Army who was not in Shabbirpur or Saharanpur city on the dates that clashes took place was also arrested and serious charges were leveled against him. Just 10 days ago, Shri Chandrashekhar was given bail by the Allahabad HC and the Court opined that the charges against him were political in nature. Most unfortunately, the UP Govt. immediately brought NSA against Shri Chandrashekhar, Shri Shiv Kumar and Shri Soni.

In the meantime, Shri Chandrashekhar’s health has deteriorated and he has been admitted in the Meerut District Hospital.

We would urge upon you to kindly intervene in the matter. Serious miscarriage of justice and violation of human rights has occurred. We are apprehensive that serious consequences may follow.

Thanking you,

Subhashini Ali (Vice President), DSMM
Nathu Prasad (Member, National Executive) DSMM