NSA Against Chandrashekhar Unwarranted: Justice Sawant & Others
On 9th May, 2017 mob violence broke out in Saharanpur city and Rampur in Saharanpur district. This was triggered off when the police lathi-charged a peaceful gathering at Gandhi Maidan organised by Bhim Army. The crowd had gathered there to protest the anti-Dalit violence at Shabbirpur village that took place on the 5th of May, 2017, in which 60 Dalit houses were burnt and attacked by a mob of Rajputs. Several Dalits were also grievously injured in this attack and have been hospitalised. Many have also fled the village out of fear of further violence.
It was in this context that Bhim Army had called for a gathering at Gandhi Maidan where they were demanding compensation for the victims and strict action against the guilty. The police instead started an unprovoked lathi-charge at the gathering, which in turn led to retaliatory violence in parts of Saharanpur city and Rampur town. While the violence that followed the lathi charge was of course condemnable, it is important to note that no one was killed or even seriously injured in this violence. This violence has led to a severe witch-hunt of Bhim Army activists across Saharanpur district and it is has come to our notice that the state government plans to charge the founder of Bhim Army, Chandrashekar, under National Security Act (NSA). There is absolutely nothing in the nature of these protests that warrant such charges against Chandrashekhar or any other activist of Bhim Army. It is evident that Bhim Army is being made a scapegoat in order to deflect attention from the Shabbirpur violence inflicted by the Rajputs.
Justice PB Sawant (SC retired)
Justice Hosbet Suresh (Bombay HC retired)
Justice Kolse Patil (former Bombay HC)
Ram Punyani , Author and Activist
Teesta Setalvad, Journalist, Author and Activist
Javed Anand, Journalist and Activist
Muniza Khan, Academic and Activist
Khalid Anis Ansari, Academic and leader of Pasmanda Democratic Forum