Straight out of Tihar

Chandra Shekhar Aazad discusses jail and the CAA protests

17 January 2020
Aazad after being released from Tihar jail, on 16 January 2020.
Shahid Tantray
Aazad after being released from Tihar jail, on 16 January 2020.
Shahid Tantray

Chandra Shekhar Aazad was arrested in Delhi on the intervening night between 20 and 21 December. Aazad, a leader of the Bhim Army, had given a call for a protest on 20 December, against the recently enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Thousands had gathered in the day at the steps of the Jama Masjid, where Aazad read out the preamble of the Constitution. Later that day, according to eye witnesses, the police also led a brutal crackdown on anti-CAA protestors in Daryaganj, an area near Jama Masjid. The first-information report against Aazad connected him to the violence at Daryaganj. It stated the charges against him as rioting, arson and destroying public property, among others. 

In early January, Azaad’s physician tweeted that jail authorities at Tihar, where Aazad was being held, were not providing the Bhim Army leader with necessary medical treatment—he suffers from polycythaemia, a blood-related disease. On 9 January, Delhi’s Tis Hazari court issued a direction to Tihar jail authorities, asking them to allow Aazad access to medical care.

On 15 January, a Delhi court granted Aazad bail on several conditions. The court barred Aazad from visiting Delhi for four weeks, and directed him to present himself at a police station in Saharanpur, Aazad’s home district. Aazad was released from Tihar jail late in the night on 16 January. Shahid Tantray, the assistant photo editor at The Caravan, met Aazad as soon as he came out of Tihar. Aazad denied the charges against him, saying they were “false.” He said, “I am a citizen of independent India, I follow this nation’s Constitution … I have not done anything that is against the law.” He continued, “From tomorrow, we will teach people the Constitution, teach them their fundamental duties. This will be a historical protest and no one will be able to withstand it.”

Shahid Tantray: You have just been released from jail. How are you feeling?
Chandra Shekhar Aazad: I have been released from jail under the court’s orders. The fight that was left incomplete will be completed now. Our Constitutional fight will go on. It will keep going on till this black law is not rolled back by the government. This is good, we will keep the struggle going.

Shahid Tantray is a multimedia reporter at The Caravan.

Keywords: CAA Citizenship (Amendment) Act Bhim Army caste politics BR Ambedkar