Chandra Shekhar Azad ‘Ravan’, a social activist founded the Bhim Army along with Vinay Ratan Singh in 2014. It is an organisation that fights for the rights of Bahujans. Since it’s foundation, Azad and his organization has been working to devlop and uplift the Dalits and other lower castes with education. They have till date set up many free of cost schools for the children of the marginalized community.
32 years old Azad who is a lawyer, hails from a village of Saharanpur. He has been a very prominent dalit leader among his people. Azad is a hero for his people for many reasons but one that distinguished him as a leader was when he put up a signboard in his village that read “the great chamars of Dhadkhauli welcome you”. Now 6 years after the foundation of Bhim Army, Chandra Shekhar Azad is now an eminent face of the Bahujan movement. He now has a widespread following which was once limited to western U.P.
Azad was also among the many leading personalities during the anti CAA/NRC/NPR protests. The iconic moment when standing on the steps of Jama Masjid, Chandra Shekhar Azad surrounded and supported by Muslims lifts up the portrait of B.R Ambedkar in one hand and constitution of India in other is unforgettable. That moment was remarkable and an important event in the timeline of the protest. His active involvement in the protests gained him a lot of following. A day after the protest he was sent on 14 days of the judicial custody. Once he was released from Tihar jail, he went back to the Jama masjid, where he was cheered on by his supporters and locals, and he read out the preamble.
His journey as a reputable dalit leader has not been easy. In June of 2017, when a clash broke out between the thakurs and Dalits in Saharanpur, Azad was booked under the National Security Act (NSA) and was kept in jail for over a year. The NSA that gives the centre and state the power to detain any person to prevent the person from disrupting the public order or from acting in manner that harms the national security. The act has been in the controversy for its potential abuse.
In august of 2019, Azad was again taken in custody when he and many others were protesting against the demolition of the Ravidas temple in tughlakabad locality. During the protest, a clash broke out between the police and the dalit protesters, after which the police took Azad and 95 others into the custody. The protesters were lodged in Tihar jail, where they were kept for almost 2 months.
His rise to the popularity is an issue for the national president of BSP. Up until now Mayawati was the sole face representing Dalits in the political scene. But with Azad’s announcement of his political party ‘Azad Samaj Party’ on 15th march 2020, BSP now has a huge competition and will have to make extra effort to earn the vote of their people. Azad made a strong statement at the launch of his party saying,” hum yahan naukar nahin, shashak banne aaye hain.” ‘we are not here to be servants, we are here to rule the country’.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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