From one paathshala to 350, Bhim Army’s journey so far

On Sunday afternoon, thousands gathered at Jantar Mantar, waving blue flags with Bhimrao Ambedkar’s image, shouting ‘Jai Bhim’ slogans, and donning masks of Chandrashekhar’s face.

Written by Aditi Vatsa | New Delhi | Published:May 22, 2017 4:18 am
Bhim army, Bhim army protest, Saharanpur violence, protest against Saharanpur violence, BHim Army demonstrations on Saharanpur violence, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar, Bhim Army rally, Jantar Mantar, indian express news  People hold up a poster of Chandrashekhar at the rally

It was on July 21, 2015 — at a time when Vinay Ratna Singh and Chandrashekhar were fresh out of college and looking for employment — that they felt the urge to do something which could uplift their community. “We felt that if we can do anything for the country, for our people, it had to be with education. On July 21, we held the first meeting of the Bhim Army and decided to start paathshalas in our area to offer free education to our children,” said Singh, co-founder of Bhim Army.

From the first paathshala — set up at Fatehpur Bhado village in Saharanpur nearly two years ago — to around 350 now, which are running not just in Saharanpur but also in the neighbouring districts of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Meerut, Bhim Army claims to have come a long way. Tracing the development of the Dalit organisation, Singh said: “Near AHP College in Saharanpur’s Chhutmalpur area, a Dalit student was beaten up by members of the Thakur community for drinking water from a well. When we raised the matter with the administration, we received threats from various quarters. But we did not buckle under pressure. Besides, there were atrocities against women apart from cases of caste discrimination. We would raise these issues with the administration and hold protests in order to get justice,” Singh says.

On Sunday afternoon, thousands gathered at Jantar Mantar, waving blue flags with Bhimrao Ambedkar’s image, shouting ‘Jai Bhim’ slogans, and donning masks of Chandrashekhar’s face. For members of the organisation, however, the response was a result of the work they had done in the past two years — from raising issues relating to caste discrimination to atrocities against women, along with the spread of their paathshalas.

“We believe in the constitution of this country but we were branded as Naxals, because we opposed the picking up innocent young people and arbitrary police raids. We have received threats. We were told that if the society is yours, the government is ours, where will you run away? It is our contribution to the country which has resulted in this support,” Singh says.

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  1. V
    vinod kumar
    May 25, 2017 at 10:02 am
    M bhi apki sath hun sir mujhe koi contect no. Do
    Reply
    1. A
      Aruna
      May 22, 2017 at 4:44 pm
      Associations like RSS, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal etc never support Dalit and never fight for Dalit so Bheem Army is the right stand taken by Chandra Shekhar. Dalits are the original people of India. They must be safe and must have all rights to live with honor, to rise and to touch the heights in all value added fields. They must be involved as decision makers and policy makers. They must not be differentiated as Shudras, Dalits. We all people of India must live as Human being. All basic rights to all human being. The discrimination of cast and colors must be removed from Hindu Religion. This is the greatest draw back and bad practice of the Hindu religion.
      Reply
      1. B
        bs kar
        May 22, 2017 at 9:21 am
        this mask business clearly shows its an organised event. find out who financed. Probably BSP's internal power struggle
        Reply
        1. S
          Shivan
          May 22, 2017 at 7:49 am
          These so called armies which play on public sentiment (in this case Dalit) must be dealt with severely. They only create law and order problems for the administration.
          Reply
          1. A
            Ajaypal Sidhu
            May 22, 2017 at 7:12 am
            Your a traitor, Sir. How dare you do anything to expose the real face of Bhartiya Jhoothi Party ? Do you have any idea how hard the paid media has tried to play down the law and order situation in UP and the utter failure of the central govt in the last 3 years ? Do you think it s easy to kill one's conscience and devote all the air time and newspaper space to that half mental Kapil Mishra and the absurdities that he vomits each day ? And here you are, trying to ruin that hard work. Shame on you. You are anti-national, lover, minority appeaser, corrupt,........... . Go to or worse, stan.
            Reply
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