Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad aka “Raavan”, arrested for his protest last month against the citizenship law at Jama Masjid, was granted bail by a Delhi court today but with conditions. Chandrashekhar Azad has been asked to leave Delhi within 24 hours of his release from jail and to stay out of the city for four weeks.
Azad has also been banned from joining the protest at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, as he planned. “Chandrashekhar should respect the constitution and the Prime Minister,” said the court, ordering the Bhim Army leader to appear before the police in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh every Saturday for the month he is out of Delhi.
Yesterday, the court tore into the police for failing to produce evidence of its charges against Azad. “It is one’s constitutional right to protest,” the court said.
The Bhim Army chief was arrested on December 21 over a dramatic protest a day before at Jama Masjid in the old quarters of Delhi, where he slipped away after being taken into custody. He was arrested a day later and charged with arson and rioting.
Judge Kamini Lau was furious when the prosecutor referred to Azad’s social media posts to argue that he had incited violence and read out the Bhim Army chief’s tweet about going to a dharna in Jama Masjid. “What is wrong with a dharna? What is wrong with protesting? It is one’s constitutional right to protest,” said the judge.
“Where is the violence? What is wrong with any of these posts? Who says you cannot protest…have you read the constitution?”
The judge also noted: “You are behaving as if Jama Masjid is Pakistan. Even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was a part of undivided India.” In his bail request, Azad had said the police had arrested him “mechanically” without following the due process of law.