Bhim Army chief released, vows to ‘punish’ BJP

Saharanpur: Bhim Army chief and Dalit leader Chandra Shekhar aka Ravana on Friday pledged to teach the BJP a lesson after he was released from prison where he was held since last year under the National Security Act (NSA).

As he walked out of the jail, Chandra Shekhar slammed the “anti-Dalit” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh and vowed to pay back for his imprisonment.

Amid jubilation from his supporters, the Bhim Army chief was released early in the day from the Saharanpur jail.

He told journalists that his release before the due date of release on November 1 was due to the pressure mounted by his his supporters.

Refusing to embrace the BJP’s attempt to pit him against Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and called the four-time Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister his “bua (aunty) whom he respected a lot”.

This is widely seen as a setback to the BJP’s attempt to drive a wedge between the two Dalit leaders.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday okayed the release of Chandra Shekhar. The sudden decision was conveyed to the District Magistrate of Saharanpur.

The decision to free the Bhim Army chief ahead of November 1 followed a representation from his mother, said Uttar Pradesh Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar.

The BJP government has also decided to release, ahead of time, two accomplices of the Bhim Army chief – Sonu and Shiv Kumar. They were to be released on November 14 this year.

Following a caste conflict in May 2017, the three along with three others were jailed under the NSA. The others were freed on September 7 this year.

On May 5, the Bhim Sena shot into limelight after a caste clash between Rajputs and Dalits in which a police station was set on fire and 20 vehicles gutted.

The violence continued for many days, leaving the state government on tenterhooks as it was in power for just two months at that time.

Chandra Shekhar is an advocate by profession and had formed the Dalit outfit, ‘Bhim Army Bharat Ekta Mission’, in July 2015 to fight for the rights of the Dalits.

The group has attracted hundreds, specially Dalit youths.