I will not wear a blue turban until saffron terrorism is rooted out from the country – Chandrashekhar, Founder of Bhim Army
Over 50,000 Dalits from UP, Delhi and elsewhere in north India braved the blistering heat and defied the Delhi police to stage a massive protest in the nation’s capitol on Sunday.
The 30-year-old lawyer and founder of the ‘Bhim Army’ Chandrashekhar, who had gone undercover following the anti-Dalit atrocities by Thakur in Saharanpur on May 5, surfaced at the rally, delivered a fiery speech. Hundreds of posters greeted Chandrashekhar, including one which read, “Racism isn’t born, its taught”.
Amidst repeated chants of “Jai Bhim” that resounded at Jantar Mantar, Chandrashekhar, “Main kayar nahin hoon. Meri awaaz aap tak pahunchana tha. Issi liye abhi tak chupa tha. Ab main surrender karronga” (I am not a coward. I wanted my message to reach you. I will surrender now). Later he went to a local court to surrender but was told to do so in Saharanpur.
On May 5, Thakurs had lodged a full scale attack on Dalits in Shabbirpur village of Saharanpur district in UP. They burnt more than 58 houses along with 4 shops, motorcycles, vans, provisions etc, looted jewellery and seriously injured 14 Dalits, including women and children.
According to the police, Chandrashekhar has been absconding since the alleged violent protests on May 9 in response to the earlier incidents of May 5.
Also read: Saharanpur a test for Yogi’s government
At Jantar Mantar rally, the leader of the ‘Bhim Army’ declined to don the blue turban presented to him as a mark of honour. “Main pagdi tab tak sweekar nahin karoonga jab tak desh mein bhagwa aatankwaad khatam nahin hota” (I will not wear a turban until saffron terrorism is rooted out from the country)”, he said.
“This is our country and we will not let it break-up,” he added. He called upon Dalits present at the rally to lodge complaints of atrocities against Dalits with their respective district authorities on May 23.
Many Muslim leaders and activists also participated in the rally which was addressed among others by the Dalit activist from Gujarat, Jignesh Mewani, former president of JNU Students Union, Kanhaiya Kumar and Satya Pal Tanwar, national president of ‘Ek Nigahein’.
Mewani who has been playing a major role in mobilizing and raising Dalit demands in Gujarat since the Una incident said: “There are some politicians who call themselves Ambedkar bhakts. But in this country Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis are being attacked. Is this what is meant by sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas?
Tanwar said that Dalits had held a peaceful demonstration in Saharanpur on May 6 and given the police 24 hours to act against those responsible for the attack on Dalits in Shabbirpur village the previous day. When the police failed to act, Dalits held a peaceful rally on May 9. Tanwar alleged that without any provocation not only did the police lathi-charge the demonstrators, Bajrang Dal activists even resorted to firing at the Dalits.
After the rally a memorandum was handed over to the President of India demanding penal action against the errant police and activists of the Bajrang Dal.
The Delhi police told the media later that though permission had been denied for the rally at Jantar Mantar, they did not intervene since a large number was present and also because the rally was peaceful.