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Appeal: Free Azad Campaign

Call For Release Of Chandrashekhar Azad

Dear Friend of Countercurrents.org,

Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’is an innocent undertrial who is languishing in jail although, the courts have dismissed his case as politically motivated. We all should work for his release. Many of CC authors have signed the statement. We are in the process of compiling them.

I want the involvment of each and every one of you.

What you can do.

1. Endorse this statement. Send your endorsements to releaseazad@gmail.com

2. Circulate this statement among your friends for endorsement

3. Translate it into your own language and send it to your friends for endorsement.

4. We need painters, cartoonists, designers, poets, film makers, singers, activists etc to volunteer their time for this campaign

5. Write to us how you can volunteer for this campaign at releaseazad@gmail.com

4. Do not post this on social media as of now.


In Solidarity

Binu Mathew
Editor
Countercurrents.org




Dear Friends,

Perhaps you are aware that many of the prisoners in India are undertrials, who are put away for years without being convicted of any crime or in many cases even formal charges framed against them by the police. Marginalised communities – Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims- form a majority of this undertrial population.

And then there are those in Indian prisons who have been arrested under various undemocratic laws that deny the accused opportunity for bail or even a chance to prove their innocence through due judicial process. Here again the bulk of prisoners happen to be from the Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim communities.

One such case is that of Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’, the Dalit leader and founder of the Bhim Army in Uttar Pradesh who is currently lodged in a jail under the National Security Act (NSA) that allows detention up to a year without any bail or trial. Azad, had been arrested in June 2017 for alleged involvement in violence between Dalits and Rajputs in Saharanpur district. In November 2017 he was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court, which dismissed all four cases against him as 'baseless' and 'politically motivated'. The UP government of Yogi Adityanath maliciously rearrested Azad under the draconian National Security Act (NSA) to prevent him from continuing his political and social campaign for Dalit rights.

Chandrashekhar Azad is a respected leader of Dalits, not only in Uttar Pradesh but also outside his state. His vision goes far beyond the immediate issues of Dalits and raises larger issues of rule of law, protecting the Indian Constitution and fighting against the racist caste system. The charges against him are fabricated, as observed by the Allahabad High Court itself.

Azad is a symbol for all human rights activists to understand how the upper-caste state deals with Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims. In his militant, uncompromising struggle Azad is reminiscent of Malcolm X, the Black rights leader in the United States.

Azad’s imprisonment is also part of a wider attack by the ruling regimes in both UP and New Delhi to deny Constitutional rights to those who oppose their ideology or take up the cause of India’s oppressed populations. It is critical that we join together and pursue the struggle for justice in this case.

Please find attached a statement demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Chandrashekhar Azad. We request you to endorse the statement with your name/occupation/organization by 21 March, Wednesday, 10 PM. The statement, which will be widely circulated, is just one in a series of activities planned as part of the national and global campaign for Azad’s release.

In Solidarity,

K.P. Sasi, Film Maker, Writer, Activist – kpsasi36@gmail.com

Satya Sagar, Public Health Activist, Journalist - sagarnama@gmail.com

Dr. Goldy M George, Social Scientist, Founder of Dalit Mukti Morcha, Chief Editor of Journal of People’s Studies– goldymgeorge10@gmail.com

Binu Mathew, Editor, Countercurrents.org – editor@countercurrents.org

Please Send Your Endorsements To: releaseazad@gmail.com by 21 March, 10 PM



Free Azad Campaign

Call For Release Of Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’, India’s Malcolm X

We the following writers, film makers, artists, students, academics  and social movements express our deep concern over the continued, unjust imprisonment of Dalit activist and Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ by the Uttar Pradesh government.

Azad is in prison since June 2017, put away as a threat to ‘national security’ for championing the cause of India’s Dalits – a community repeatedly subjected to racist violence, rape, inhumane untouchability practices, social, cultural and political discrimination. Due to the high level of impunity in cases involving Dalit victims, they have no way of asserting their rights through the judicial system.

We believe the only reason why Azad and his associates have been targeted for imprisonment is the fact they refuse to be intimidated by the threats of both private armies of the upper-caste as also strong-arm methods of the state machinery. Like Malcolm X, the visionary leader of the black community in the United States, Azad is searching for ways to protect Dalit rights fearlessly in a way that is not only constructive but also effective.

Going beyond mere rhetoric Azad organised Dalits into the ‘Bhim Army’– named after Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, one of India’s greatest intellectuals, who drafted the Indian Constitution. The Bhim Army’s main work has been to form over 300 study circles among Dalit students in western Uttar Pradesh to spread education and organise self-defence against violent attacks by high caste groups.

Azad was initially arrested on charges of ‘inciting violence’, following clashes between upper caste Rajputs and Dalits in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.  In November 2017 the Allahabad High Court granted bail in all four cases against him and his associate Kamal Walia, observing the charges were false and politically motivated.  The police could not provide evidence of Azad’s specific role in the incidents of violence or of possessing weapons of any kind.

The regime however promptly re-arrested Azad under the draconian National Security Act (NSA), that allows the state to put away anyone without bail for a year. The NSA is in a long line of Indian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), that violate all known norms of civil rights and are used by the Indianauthorities to suppress democratic dissent.

Worryingly there are reports of attempts to break him both mentally and bodily while in prison, including through instigated attacks against him by other prisoners. Azad has also had to be hospitalized once due to ill-health and has expressed fears state authorities may try to physically eliminate him, under some pretext or the other.

We feel Azad and the Bhim Army’s fight is not just about India’s Dalit community but for preserving Indian democracy and Constitution itself, under severe attack from  extremist political groups seeking unchallenged dictatorial power.      The serious threat posed to the life of Azad is similar to that faced by countless other human rights defenders throughout India, in places like Kashmir, Chhattisgarh  and the North-East.

It is in this context that we, the undersigned, call for Chandrashekhar Azad’s immediate and unconditional release from prison and the dropping of all false charges against him. We also call upon all those concerned about the state of human rights in the country and the fate of India’s democracy to join the campaign for Azad’s release

For further information contact:
releaseazad@gmail.com

Signatories:

K.P. Sasi, Film Maker, Writer, Activist
Satya Sagar, Public Health Activist, Journalist
Dr. Goldy George, Social Scientist, Founder of Dalit Mukti Morcha
Binu Mathew, Editor, Counrtercurrents.org

20th Mar 2018

Mar 20, 2018