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Over sixty organizations have released a poster demanding the release of Dalit activist and Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ who is incarcerated in Saharanpur jail.

Azad is in prison since June 2017, put away as a threat to ‘national security’ for championing the cause of India’s Dalits – a community repeatedly subjected to racist violence, rape, inhumane untouchability practices, social, cultural and political discrimination. Due to the high level of impunity in cases involving Dalit victims, they have no way of asserting their rights through the judicial system.

Like Malcolm X, the visionary leader of the black community in the United States, Azad is searching for ways to protect Dalit rights fearlessly in a way that is not only constructive but also effective.

Going beyond mere rhetoric Azad organised Dalits into the ‘Bhim Army’– named after Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, one of India’s greatest intellectuals, who drafted the Indian Constitution. The Bhim Army’s main work has been to form over 300 study circles among Dalit students in western Uttar Pradesh to spread education and organise self-defence against violent attacks by high caste groups.

Azad was initially arrested on charges of ‘inciting violence’, following clashes between upper caste Rajputs and Dalits in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. In November 2017 the Allahabad High Court granted bail in all four cases against him and his associate Kamal Walia, observing the charges were false and politically motivated. The police could not provide evidence of Azad’s specific role in the incidents of violence or of possessing weapons of any kind.

The regime however promptly re-arrested Azad under the draconian National Security Act (NSA), that allows the state to put away anyone without bail for a year. The NSA is in a long line of Indian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), that violate all known norms of civil rights and are used by the Indianauthorities to suppress democratic dissent.

Worryingly there are reports of attempts to break him both mentally and bodily while in prison, including through instigated attacks against him by other prisoners. Azad has also had to be hospitalized once due to ill-health and has expressed fears state authorities may try to physically eliminate him, under some pretext or the other.

Bhim Army’s fight is not just about India’s Dalit community but for preserving Indian democracy and Constitution itself, under severe attack from extremist political groups seeking unchallenged dictatorial power. The serious threat posed to the life of Azad is similar to that faced by countless other human rights defenders throughout India, in places like Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and the North-East.

High resolution printable poster can be downloaded here

https://www.freeazad.in/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Free-Azad-poster.jpg

Endorsing Organisations:

Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI), Canada

Radical Desi, Canada

Women Writers Against Tyranny

Voices of Women for Justice and Peace

International Movement for a JUST World, Malaysia

Justice for Palestine Matters

Dalit Mukti Morcha

Chhattisgarh Nagrik Sayunkt Sangarsh Samiti

Bhoo Adhikara Samrakshana Samithi

Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha

Keraleeyam Collective

Endosulfan Peeditha Munnani

SEWA

Penpilai Orumai

DISHA

Puthuvyp LPG Terminal Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithi

Pachimaghatta Smarakshana Ekopana Samithi

NAPM, Kerala

Chengara Bhoo Samara Samithi

Arippa Bhoo Samara Samithi

RIGHTS, Thiruvananthapuram

Plachimada Coca Cola Virudha Samara Samithi

Periyar Malineekarana Virudha Samara Samithi

Dalith  Bhoo Avakasha Samara Munnani

Vayalkili Samara Samithi, Keezhattoor

Countercurrents.org

Shramajibi Swasthya Udyog

Coorg Organisation for Rural Development (CORD)

Budukuttu Krishikara Sangha (BKS)

National Adivasi Alliance (NAA)

Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI)

Women India Movement (WIM)

Social Democratic Trade Union (SDTU)

Dalit Peoples’ Democratic Front

Tamil Nadu Student’s Front

New Socialist Alternative (CWI- India)

People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (P.A.D.S)

Coorg Organisation for Rural Development (CORD)

Ilanthamizhagam Iyakkam

Welfare Party of India

Shahid Bhagat Singh Creativity Center

Peoples’ Democratic Republican Party

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Joint Action Committee for Social Justice

Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association

POSCO Pratirodh Sangarsh Samithi

Lok Shakti Abhiyan

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery KarmchariSangh

Bhopal Group for Information and Action

People’s Campaign for Socio – Economic Equality,

Journal of Counter Culture Perspectives

Padhabhedam Monthly

Critics.in

May 17 Movement

SICHREM

Lok Shakti Abhiyan

Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti

Khandadar Suraksha Samiti

Fraternity Movement

Solidarity Youth Movement

Media Fraternity

OROSA, Bhubaneshwar

Civil Sociey Forum on Human Rights, Bhubaneswhar

National Solidariy Forum

 

 

2 Comments

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    In solidarity
    Release all political prisoners and those detained under illegal and fabricated charges by the State