Accused of Saharanpur Riots, Promoter of Hate Against Upper Castes: How Chandrashekhar’s Win Affects Indian Politics

Born on December 3, 1986, Chandrashekhar Azad is in headlines, this time for his recent victory in the Lok Sabha election from Nagina, Uttar Pradesh. Azad, the national president of the Azad Samaj Party (Kanshi Ram) and the leader and co-founder of Bhim Army, is a well-known radical Dalit leader and Ambedkarite campaigner known for his role in the Saharanpur riots. However, his win in the Loksabha elections from Nagina has raised many concerns due to his controversial past and accusations of inciting violence against upper-caste communities.

From Activist to Politician

Chandrashekhar Azad began his journey as a Dalit activist fighting against social injustice and caste inequality. In 2015, he co-founded the Bhim Army with Satish Kumar and Vinay Ratan Singh, aiming to empower Dalits through social awareness and education. However, the Bhim Army is more notorious for peddling hate against the upper castes.

Involvement in Saharanpur Caste Riots

Azad gained national attention during the 2017 caste violence in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The unrest began on April 20, 2017, during the Dalit community’s celebration of B.R. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. Violence escalated on May 5, 2017, when a group of villagers approached a Dalit neighborhood despite administrative instructions to avoid the area. The Rajputs were heading to a garlanding ceremony in Maharana Pratap’s honor. The unapproved procession led to the death of one Rajput, and injuries to several others. Security forces were subsequently deployed to control the situation.

Azad’s involvement in these events led to the Uttar Pradesh government imposing the National Security Act (NSA) on him in 2018. However, after protests and to balance the BSP, the NSA was revoked by the Yogi government in September 2018.

Controversial Speeches and Radical Views

Azad has been a polarizing figure, known for his hate speeches that frequently criticize upper-caste communities. He has publicly threatened the police officers with the SC-ST act and created mayhem in cases like the Hathras incident. His rhetoric has been seen as inflammatory, often exacerbating tensions between Dalits and upper-caste groups.

Under Azad’s leadership, the Bhim Army has taken extreme positions against Brahmins and other upper-caste people. The organization has been accused of promoting anti-Brahmin sentiments. Critics argue that such radical views could further deepen societal divisions.

Y Security: A Controversial Decision

Prior to the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the government granted Azad Y category security by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) after he reported receiving threats. The Uttar Pradesh police investigated the threats and notified the Centre. Azad had previously received security cover from the UP Police. This decision has drawn comparisons to the case of Hindu nationalist politician Kamlesh Tiwari, whose security was downgraded before his murder in 2019 by radical Islamists. Critics argue that the government’s inconsistent security protocols reflect a troubling double standard in protecting public figures.

Azad’s victory in Nagina is seen by some as a troubling sign of his growing influence and the support he has garnered from Dalits and other marginalized groups. His contentious past and radical views raise significant concerns about the impact his presence in Parliament will have on Indian politics and societal harmony. The disappointment surrounding his election underscores the challenges India faces in protecting the rights of marginalized groups like upper-caste communities.

Mahi Saha
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Mahi Saha, from Ranchi, reports for Neo Politico.

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