Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar alias Ravan was arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, on Thursday in connection with cases pertaining to the recent violence in Saharanpur.
The 30-year-old lawyer from Saharanpur had founded Bhim Army, which hit the headlines after its members allegedly participated in violent demonstrations following clashes between Dalits and Thakurs in Shabbirpur village of Saharanpur district last month. He had been evading arrest for nearly a month.
Chandrashekhar was finally arrested by a team of UP Special Task Force and Saharanpur Police in the tourist town of Dalhousie near the Himachal-Punjab border.
STF SSP Amit Pathak said that Chandrashekhar was being taken to Saharanpur, where he was likely to be produced before the magistrate on Friday. He said Chandrashekhar had been on the move constantly and had reached Dalhousie on Wednesday.
Himachal DGP Sanjay Kumar said that Chandrashekhar was apparently staying in Dalhousie disguised as a tourist. “They (UP police) must have been tracking his movements. As per the system, the UP team informed us about the arrest of a person called Chandrashekhar, who is wanted in some cases in UP,” he told The Indian Express.
The STF reportedly reached Dalhousie on Wednesday night and picked up the accused around 10 pm. The team had advised the local police to maintain confidentially to avoid any reaction from his supporters.
Chandrashekhar was booked in two cases after the May 9 protests in Saharanpur, spearheaded by his outfit following the clash between Dalits and Thakurs on May 5. While on the run, Chandrashekhar had addressed a protest meeting of Dalits at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on May 21. The UP Police had announced a reward of Rs 12,000 for his arrest.
The UP DGP headquarters said in a statement that Chandrashekhar was wanted in connection with three FIRs lodged in Saharanpur district. The charges include attempt to murder and rioting.
Saharanpur ASP (Traffic) Omvir Singh, who is heading the SIT formed to probe all the cases related to last month’s caste violence, said Chandrashekhar was named in two FIRs but his name came up during investigation into a few other cases. He said the details of those cases would have to be gathered from the respective investigating officers.
Police said Chandrashekhar is the “main accused” in the violence in Dehat Kotwali area of Saharanpur on May 9, when stones were thrown at the police, a police outpost was ransacked, rioters indulged in arson, assaulted mediapersons and damaged vehicles. Chandrashekhar played the main role in incidents of riots in various police station areas of Saharanpur, they added.
“Accused Chandrashekhar alias Ravan was trying to disturb harmony and spread misleading information among people by releasing provocative remarks on social media. Bhim Army Sena’s founder Chandrashekhar commits violent incidents by portraying himself as the well-wisher of Dalits..,” the DGP headquarters statement said.
On Wednesday, the police arrested two members of Bhim Army — Saharanpur district president Praveen Gautam and Deoband Assembly segment president Deepak Kumar — in connection with the violence in Ramnagar village of Saharanpur district on May 9.