Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who was accompanying the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman who died after being gang raped from Delhi to Hathras, said Wednesday that he was detained by Uttar Pradesh police midway and has now been put under house arrest in Saharanpur.
"The whole world saw how our sister was cremated at night in the absence of the family and without their consent, in connivance of the government and the police. The morality of these people is dead. I was detained by their police the night before and now I have been put under house arrest in Saharanpur. But we will fight," Azad tweeted in Hindi.
He also shared a picture of the notice issued to him by the Saharanpur police, which stated: “You are being informed that CrPC section 144 is imposed in the district. There are credible inputs that your tours and acts are gathering crowds, which may lead to law and order situation. Any untoward incident may happen. Hence, you are being informed that you will stay in your house only.”
The order, issued by the local Fatehpur police station in-charge Manoj Chaudhary, also warned Azad of legal action for violating the instruction.
When contacted, Chaudhary told PTI that it was not a “house arrest” but Azad has been asked to remain at his home in view of the law and order situation.
“There is no time limit on the order as such,” he added.
According to functionaries of the Azad Samaj Party, which was launched by the Bhim Army chief in March, Azad and Delhi unit head Himanshu Balmiki had gone missing after 10 pm on Tuesday while they were on their way to Hathras, accompanying the family of the gangrape victim, who died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday.
The Azad Samaj Party and affiliates of the pro-Dalit Bhim Army, among others, had joined the protests outside Safdarjung hospital in the national capital on Tuesday to demand justice for the gangrape victim and her family.
"There is no clue about the location of Azad and Balmiki after they reached the Jewar toll plaza to get on the lane to Tappal, Aligarh," Azad Samaj Party's core committee member Ravindra Bhati said earlier on Wednesday.
He alleged that Azad and Balmiki were detained during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday, but the police were not making it public.
The body of the gangrape victim was cremated in Hathras in the early hours of Wednesday, with her family members alleging that the local police forced them to perform the last rites in the dead of the night.
Local police officers, however, told PTI that the victim was cremated "according to the wishes of the family".
Around 12.30 pm on Wednesday, dozens of Azad Samaj Party and Bhim Army activists reached the Tappal police station in Aligarh and staged a demonstration.
"A delegation of our representatives will be meeting senior police and administration officials to inquire about Azad and Balmiki," Bhati told the protesters inside the Tappal police station compound.
When contacted, a senior Aligarh police official said, "I have no idea about this (detention) claim."
The district police chief and some other senior officers could not be contacted as according to another police official, they have been infected with the coronavirus and are under medication for the last three-four days.