Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, in his first interview after being released from jail last week, said the citizenship law CAA is also against Dalits and tribals and not just Muslims. "In the time to come, every Bagh (garden) can be Shaheen Bagh," he warned, speaking to NDTV on Wednesday.
"The NRC, NPR and CAA are the most anti-Dalit. They are also anti-OBC and anti-tribals, because these people will suffer the most...In the time to come, every Bagh can be Shaheen Bagh. We say the government should do its work, but people are scared. The Home Minister (Amit Shah) is saying he won't take retreat on the law. If he wanted to divide the country, when could he do so if not when the government enjoys a majority. He is doing what has been his agenda."
Chandrashekhar Azad said he would urge his supporters to vote against the BJP in the February 8 Delhi election, but insisted his agenda was not political. "I am against the BJP because BJP is against the constitution" , he said.
But added, "The Congress has treated us (Dalits) like a vote-bank."
Azad, 33, denied that any violence took place at Jama Masjid or even in its 2 km radius. He was arrested on December 21, a day after his protest at the iconic mosque in old Delhi and a march at another part of the city in which there were clashes.
He was released on Friday but asked to leave Delhi within 24 hours and stay away for four weeks. The court yesterday allowed him back in Delhi but he has to appear before the police every day and he cannot participate in protests.
"I am against violence. It undermines the cause one is fighting for," Azad said.
Yet, NDTV reminded him, the Delhi Police had filed grave charges like rioting, keeping weapons and inflammatory speeches against him. "Who is the Delhi government working for? Whatever the government wants, the naukar (servant) has to do," Azad shrugged.
He said he had been arrested on false grounds and accused of violating Section 144 - the ban on large gatherings - even though he went as a "single person" to the protest.
"The only crime I committed was reading the preamble of the constitution. I want to safeguard the constitution as it is in danger. Why was I detained? Where is the freedom of expression of a person can't go anywhere?"
The CAA or Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which makes religion a criterion for Indian citizenship, says non-Muslim minorities from Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can become citizens easily if they fled religious persecution and entered India before December 31, 2014. Critics believe the CAA, along with the NRC (National Citizen's Register), will be used to target Muslims.
The NPR, which is seen to be a precursor to the NRC (National Citizen's Register) and asks people to produce birth documents, has been stopped in many states.