The main accused in the Saharanpur caste violence and Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar, alias Ravan, was yesterday arrested from Dalhousie in Chamba district in a joint operation of the UP Special Task Force and the Himachal Pradesh Police.
Chandrashekhar, a 30-year-old Dalit rights activist, who had been absconding since clashes broke out in Saharanpur last month, was carrying a reward of Rs 12,000 on his head.
Himachal DGP Sanjay Kumar said the police tracked his vehicle and arrested him from Subhash Chowk in Dalhouise in the morning. However, the Chamba police did not disclose details about Chandrashekhar’s stay. Sources here said the Dalit leader was arrested by a UP Police team at 10.30 am.
STF SSP Amit Pathak said that Chandrashekhar was being taken to Saharanpur, where he was likely to be produced before the magistrate on Friday. He said Chandrashekhar had been on the move constantly and had reached Dalhousie on Wednesday.Chandrashekhar had shot to limelight after holding a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against violence on Dalits in Saharanpur. More than 50,000 Dalits and other activists attended the protest held to highlight the UP Government’s atrocities against Dalits in Saharanpur and the rising caste-based crime in the state.
He had also demanded the dropping of criminal cases against Dalits and had said he would surrender if 37 “innocent” Dalits were released. The Bhim Army founder had charged the Yogi government with sparing the real culprits of the Saharanpur violence and targeting the Dalits.
The cycle of violence in Saharanpur began on May 5, when a man was killed, several injured and around 60 homes set ablaze in clashes between Thakurs and Dalits during a procession to mark Rana Pratap’s birth anniversary in Shabbirpur village. The district has remained tense ever since and violence has erupted repeatedly.