Saharanpur: Amnesty International India has demanded the immediate release of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad who is languishing in jail over his alleged role in the Saharanpur violence in May 2017.
Accused of rioting, Azad was arrested from Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh on June 8, 2017 by a Special Task Force (STF) team of the Uttar Pradesh police. After about six months in jail, he was slapped with the National Security Act (NSA).
"Chandrashekhar Azad 'Ravan' has been languishing in prison for the last one year. Keeping him behind bars under repressive administrative detention laws, shows that the Uttar Pradesh government would rather stifle dissent than address serious human rights concerns," Programmes Director at Amnesty International India Asmita Basu said.
Stressing that Azad has been denied a fair trial, Basu said even the Allahabad High Court has observed that cases against the Bhim Army chief were politically motivated.
"On November 2, 2017, the Allahabad High Court granted him bail and observed that cases against Azad were politically motivated," Basu said in a press conference. However, a day before his release, Azad was booked under the draconian NSA, thus preventing his release, Basu added.
President of Bhim Army, Vinay Ratan Singh, who was also present in the conference, lashed out at the state government for imprisoning Azad.
"The state government has done everything to keep Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan in jail. What crime has he committed?" asked Singh.
"When the riots were taking place, the same state authorities had asked for his (Azad) and Bhim Army's help to maintain peace in Saharanpur. Now they are saying that if he is released, he will create a law and order problem," he added.
Over 140,000 people across India have supported Amnesty International India's campaign calling on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to release Azad, Singh said.
The petition launched on April 4, requests people to give a missed call to show their support for Azad, Singh added. PTI