LUCKNOW: Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan has announced a country wide protest from December 6 for the release of several leaders from jail. They have been booked under the National Security Act, and have been locked in Muzaffarnagar jail since April this year without bail.

Azad, himself out of jail after a long stint through which the Bhim Army staged numerous protests in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, visited Muzaffarnagar jail to meet the organisations leaders including Upkar Bawara, Shaheed Udham Singh and others who remain without bail since April 2 this year when they were charged by the police for inciting violence. After the meeting, according to Bhim Army leader Rajan Gautam, the organisation decided to hold a big protest in Muzaffarnagar on December 1 and extend this to the rest of India from December 6.

The Bhim Army has maintained that violence during the Bharat Bandh was incited by “outsiders” and its members were wrongly framed by the UP police. Azad said that he wanted a fair investigation into the violence, and the withdrawal of all cases against Dalits in western UP.

After his long incarceration, Azad is working hard to revive the organisation. A social movement that came into the spotlights after a history of work on education in particularly. Azad visited UP schools recently and released a video on the discrimination being faced by Dalit children. Not just in terms of the quality of education but even the uniform given to them by the government run primary schools.

He followed this with a long video just a few days ago, stressing on the ‘samajik’ nature of the Bhim Army movement. And insisted that he would speak for the plight of all members of the bahujan sabha regardless of political affiliations. He said that the Bhim Army had an ideology and a constitution, and urged all members to work hard without fear of reprisal. He pleaded with Muslims and OBCs in particular to sink all differences and work with the bahujan samaj, maintaining that he would work with them ‘shoulder to shoulder’ for the uplift of all. He said for a better tomorrow it was imperative for all to be united on one platform.

Chandrashekhar Azad, a force to reckon with in pockets of western UP, has the potential of consolidating Dalits across UP. He has been approached tentatively by the Congress and Samajwadi party for poll alliances but has not responded, either negatively or positively. Bahujan Samaj party leader Mayawati has preferred to keep a distance although Azad has made tentative overtures for larger unity, according to sources.

Azad who has had a rough time in jail, with his colleagues fearing for his life before he was released on bail, insisted that he did not wear a collar around his neck, and held the freedom to speak his mind as very valuable. He said that the Bhim Army would fight for the rights of all, including the minorities, with social equality and justice being central to its existence. He also said in a long video that he expected the organisation to carry on the struggle “if something happens to me.” A reality that continues to haunt the targeted organisation and the leaders who have shown exemplary courage.

Azad said that it was imperative for the bahujan samaj to realise that rights and justice would not come its way on its own. “We will have to extract these by force,” he said. (Cheen ke lena parega).

“You must realise you are being looted, your rights are being denied, what is your due being taken away for the corporates and the big business,” he said. He kept urging the people “don’t be scared, let them put false cases on you, stay united, and don’t be worried, we are all in this together.”