NEW DELHI: Hours after being released from jail, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad on Friday said he will ensure that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is routed in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a PTI report said.
Chandrashekhar was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) from Himachal Pradesh's Dalhousie for inciting caste clashes in different areas of Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur district, in which one person was killed and 16 others were injured.
The Allahabad High Court had granted him bail on November 2, 2017. However, police booked him under the stringent National Security Act days before his release. Under the NSA, he was to be detained till November 1.
"After going through the representation of Chandrashekhar's mother, it has been decided to release him early. He had to be in jail till November 1," a spokesperson of the Uttar Pradesh government's Home Department had said in Lucknow on Thursday, the report added.
Azad walked out of the jail at around 2:40 am as hundreds of his supporters wearing blue 'Bhim Army' caps had gathered outside the prison to celebrate his release, the Dalit group's national spokesperson Manjeet Singh Nautiyal said.
Many had thronged his residence and distributed sweets in the neighbourhood while a section of his admirers made a beeline to click a selfie with the Dalit leader.
"The Bhim Army will not buckle under pressure from the government and will fight in a constitutional manner to throw the BJP out of power in the general elections," Azad said.
The Dalit leader claimed that he met several inconsolable youngsters inside the jail who were falsely implicated by the police due to their caste.
He said his stay inside the prison had strengthened his resolve to fight against the alleged atrocities being committed against Dalits.
"It's a very long constitutional fight for our rights. It's time for the real battle. The Bhim Army was faltering in the absence of a leader, but I have returned now," the 31-year-old Dalit leader said, adding that he will not contest elections.
Talking about the treatment meted out to him inside the prison, Azad said he was given "dry rotis" and his family was not allowed to meet him. All that I went through, I will make sure to return it to the BJP with interest in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he said, adding that he will not contest the upcoming elections.
He further said the government was playing politics on the SC/ST Act issue and the Dalit community will give a befitting answer to the BJP in the 2019 elections. "The March 20 Supreme Court judgment diluting the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was based on the government's views against the law," he said.
"Now, they have passed an amendment bill to restore the original version of the Act. We know what they are trying to do," he added. Azad, however, denied revealing the Dalit group's plans for the future.
With inputs from Agencies.
Image Credits: Citizens for Justice and Peace