Intensifying their struggle for the restoration of the statue of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and asserting their demand for revocation of cases against Dalit protesters, thousands of Bhim Army protesters on Tuesday courted arrest after holding demonstrations in front of the police stations in Saharanpur region.
The protesters raised slogans of 'Jai Bhim' amid the high alert and marched to the police stations as a 'jail bharo andolan' [occupy prisons movement] called by the Bhim Army district president was underway.
Meanwhile, the outfit's call for ‘jail bharo andolan' prompted Uttar Pradesh police to swing into action and declare high alert in the district since morning.
The intelligence department has also been alerted. The Station officers (SO) of Saharanpur police stations have been asked to keep an eye on the protesters.
Four companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), two companies of (RAF) and two companies of Rapid Action Force (RRF) have been deployed across the district. Around 800 policemen have also been deployed. Barricading has been done in various places to deal with any possible incident.
Police Line Turned into Temporary Jail
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Dinesh Kumar told local media that complete arrangements were made ahead of the Bhim Army's Jail Bharo movement. “Those involved in the agitation will be taken to a temporary jail in the police line after the arrest, where the activists and supporters will be kept. Tight arrangements have been made to ensure that the peace does not deteriorate. Action will be taken on those who create disorder,” he said,
This development comes in the context of the vandalism of a statue of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar on September 10, allegedly by men belonging to the dominant caste in Ghunna village of Saharanpur district. Following this, villagers, mostly from the Dalit community, staged a protest against the demolition. Three FIRs were registered in this case and 100 people were named by the police—including Bhim Army national chief general secretary Kamal Singh Walia—for allegedly pelting stones during the protest, while 750 persons are ‘unknown’.
Speaking to NewsClick, Bhim Army district in-charge Praveen Gautam said, "The reason behind the 'jail bharo andolan' is that 96 people from the Dalit community and Bhim Army have been sent to the jail when they demanded restoration of the Ravidas Temple. Our 750 supporters have been booked under serious charges including Goonda Act for raising their voice against the vandalism of Bhimrao Ambedkar's statue. We have submitted the memorandum to the city magistrate to take all the cases back against the Bhim Army members and release those 96 people including Chief Chandrashekhar Azad."