Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad was detained in Hyderabad ahead of a planned protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens on Sunday evening. Lungerhouse police said the administration had not given permission for the agitation, and the Dalit leader was taken into custody to prevent him from going ahead with it. In an early morning tweet today, he said that tyranny is at "all-time high" in Telangana and he "would be back soon".
According to news agency IANS, Chandrashekhar Azad and a few supporters were on their way to the Crystal Garden in Mehdipatnam to address the protest rally when they were taken into custody. They were subsequently taken to Bolaram police station, it added.
"He has been detained under Section 151 because permission was not granted for the public protest. He is likely to be let off soon," Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar told NDTV. This particular provision of the Indian Penal Code allows police to detain or arrest anybody who is likely to "disturb public peace".
This morning, he tweeted that he was being sent back to Delhi after he was taken to Hyderabad airport. "Tyranny has reached its highest level in Telangana.... First, we were beaten with sticks and then I was arrested. Now, they are sending me to Delhi," he wrote in Hindi.
Tagging Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao's office, he further wrote: "Bahujan Samaj won't forget this humiliation... I will be back soon."
Chandrashekhar Azad's detention comes barely 10 days after his release on bail from Tihar Jail on January 16. He was arrested on charges of inciting a crowd to take up an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest in the national capital's Daryaganj area last month.
The Dalit leader had sent out a Twitter alert regarding his detention 15 minutes before reports finally emerged on news agency platforms. "Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad has been detained by the Hyderabad police," his tweet read.
— Chandra Shekhar Aazad (@BhimArmyChief) January 26, 2020
Chandrashekhar Azad is one of the most visible faces of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act agitation. He has not toned down his attacks on the controversial law even after his release from prison, subject to certain conditions.
Addressing a rally in Bihar's Muzaffarpur on Friday, he accused the BJP-led centre of "peddling lies" on the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens. "By insisting that the law is a benign one aimed at giving citizenship and not taking it away, the government is peddling lies. It is misleading the nation by claiming that it is not linked to the National Register of Citizens. All the three exercises are aimed at harming the common people," the Dalit leader said.
Two days prior to that, Chandrashekhar Azad had warned the government that "every Bagh (garden) would turn into Shaheen Bagh" -- with Dalits and tribals joining in the protests -- if the government does not withdraw the law. "The NRC, NPR and CAA are anti-Dalit. They are also anti-OBC and anti-tribal because these people will suffer the most," the activist-politician said, adding that the government was exploiting its numerical strength in parliament to "carry out its agenda".
The Delhi police had charged Chandrashekhar Azad with arson, rioting and inciting violence after his arrest on December 21, but their arguments failed to impress Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau when the matter went to trial. "There is no evidence that Azad indulged in violence or inflammatory speech. The only thing he read was the preamble to the constitution, which is a sacred document," she observed before granting him bail.
Critics claim that the Citizenship Amendment Act is "unconstitutional", and will end up making thousands of Muslim residents of the country stateless if implemented along with the National Register of Citizens. A resolution passed by the European Union on Sunday echoed a similar concern too.
(With inputs from Agencies)