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Azad rips Modi’s CAA claim on Dalits

I respect the PM, I want to tell him that he should respect the Constitution of the country: Azad said
Azad holds a copy of the Constitution at the Jama Masjid on Friday.

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi   |   Published 17.01.20, 10:27 PM

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad on Friday dismissed as “dikhawa (eyewash)” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that his government was helping Dalits with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

He said the state of the Dalits had never been worse than under Modi’s rule. “The condition of the Dalits is worse than the worst. We are harassed here. I’m a Dalit’s son: they sent me to jail. They are not well-wishers of Dalits,” the young Dalit leader said.

Azad was addressing a news conference here this afternoon. His bail conditions require him to leave Delhi by 9.45pm on Friday and not visit the capital, unless for medical treatment, till the end of the Assembly elections, whose results will be out on February 11.

Azad has moved court seeking modification of the bail conditions. The court will hear the matter on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Azad had visited the Valmiki temple, the demolished shrine to Dalit mystic Ravidas, and the Jama Masjid. In front of the mosque, he read out the Preamble to the Constitution before several hundred people who had gathered to welcome him.

On December 22, Modi had said in a speech at Ramlila Maidan that most of the refugees from Pakistan were Dalits, and asserted that the citizenship amendment would help them secure Indian citizenship fast.

BJP working president J.P. Nadda too has claimed that 70 to 80 per cent of the refugees from Pakistan are Dalits.

Azad was arrested and sent to jail on December 21 for participating in an unauthorised protest near the Jama Masjid, Delhi, against the citizenship regime. He received bail on Wednesday and was freed at 9.45pm on Thursday.

Azad said he saw his main task as uniting the Opposition parties — who he said were not raising the citizenship issue vigorously — and support the people’s spontaneous fight against the “black law”.

He said he planned to visit the families of the anti-citizenship-act protesters killed in alleged police firing in his home state of Uttar Pradesh, and the families of those jailed.

Azad said the citizenship amendment and the proposed National Register of Citizens would harm not only Muslims but also Dalits, tribal communities and the poor in general. He said the 19 lakh people left out of the NRC in Assam included 13 lakh from Dalit, tribal and socially and economically backward communities.

“The court asked me to respect the Prime Minister. I respect him. I want to tell him that he should respect the Constitution of the country,” Azad said.

He complained of ill-treatment and negligence at Tihar jail during his 25-day stay.


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