Lucknow: Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar, the main accused in the Saharanpur caste violence, was nabbed from Himachal Pradesh today after having evaded arrest for nearly a month.
As the Bhim Army got active on the social media after the arrest, all Internet facilities in Saharanpur were blocked for two days to prevent mischief mongering.
Thirty-year-old Chandrashekhar, who was carrying a reward of Rs 12,000 on his head, was arrested from Dalhousie area of Himachal Pradesh, Additional DG (Meerut Zone) Anand Kumar told PTI over the phone.
He will be brought to Saharanpur on a transit remand.
IG (Crime) Hariram Sharma told mediapersons here that a total of 46 FIRs had been registered since inter-caste violence broke out in Saharanpur last month.
As many as 206 arrests have been made so far, including that of Chandrashekhar, who has been named as accused in three FIRs, he said.
Earlier, two members of the Bhim Army were arrested in Saharanpur for their alleged involvement in the Ramnagar caste violence on May 9 after one person was killed and several others were injured in a clash between Dalits and Thakurs at Shabbirpur village on May 5.
About a dozen police vehicles were set ablaze and 12 policemen were injured in subsequent violence on May 9.
The Uttar Pradesh Police had recently constituted a special investigation team (SIT) comprising 10 inspectors to probe 40 cases, registered between May 5 and May 23, in Saharanpur district which had seen bouts of inter-caste clashes last month.
Chandrashekhar had recently held a rally in Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to protest against alleged violence against Dalits.
He had then said that he would surrender if 37 “innocent” Dalits arrested in connection with the Saharanpur violence were released on bail.
“I feel that the UP government has failed to address the issues of the Dalits. The chief minister has lost control over the police and the administration. There have been more cases of atrocities against the Dalits in the past two-and-a-half months as compared to last one year,” he had told PTI.
The cycle of violence in Saharanpur began on May 5, when a man was killed, several injured and around 25 homes set ablaze in inter-caste clashes in Shabbirpur village.
The district has remained tense ever since and violence has erupted repeatedly.
On May 23, another person was shot dead and two others were wounded, following which the government had suspended the senior superintendent of police and district magistrate and transferred the divisional commissioner and the deputy inspector general of police.
The opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh have been attacking the ruling BJP over the violence in Saharanpur.
BSP leader Mayawati had visited Shabbirpur to counter the growing influence of the Bhim Army by mobilising her party cadre in the region.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had met the victims of Saharanpur caste clashes and their family members at the district’s border after authorities denied him permission to visit the violence-hit area.
The Centre has since sent 400 anti-riot police personnel to Saharanpur to help the district administration restore peace in the region.
Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’, a Saharanpur lawyer, and Vinay Ratna Singh had founded the Bhim Army in July 2015 to serve the interests of Dalits in the Sahranpur region where Rajputs and Dalits are involved in a long-drawn tussle for dominance and fight against oppression.
Chandrashekhar belongs to Chhutmalpur village adjoining Shabbirpur, the epicentre of recent troubles.
Though the aim of the Bhim Army was to educate the community’s children free of cost with their first school coming up two years ago at Saharanpur’s Bhado village, it came into focus in April when an Ambedkar Jayanti procession was stopped by upper caste Rajputs.