The Bhim Army, also written as Bheem Army,[1] (lit."Ambedkar Army"), is an Ambedkarite Dalit organisation in India. It was founded by Chandrashekhar Azad, sometimes known by the alias Azad, and Vinay Ratan Singh[2] in 2015.[3] The group runs more than 350 free schools for Bahujan in Saharanpur, Meerut, Shamli and Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh.[4][2] The organisation is named after B. R. Ambedkar.

Bhim Army
Formation2015
Founded atUttar Pradesh
TypeDalit organization
Founder
Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan
National President
Vinay Ratan Singh
Websitebhimarmyofficial.com

It became prominent after clashes in Uttar Pradesh.[5] For its involvement, the group's leader Chandrashekhar, a lawyer,[2][6] was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force in June 2017.[7] Chandrashekhar Azad granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in November 2017, but the Uttar Pradesh government led by Yogi Adityanath continued to detain him under the National Security Act until it dropped the NSA order in September 2018 and released Chandrashekhar Azad from jail.[8]

Bhim Army's stated mission is "direct action based on confrontation to preserve or restore the dignity of Dalit" and it has an estimated 20,000 followers in the Saharanpur region, which is about 20% Dalit and about 40% Muslim.[6] The group protests against discrimination and caste violence against Dalit by members of the upper Thakurs caste in violent clashes in 2017 in Saharanpur.[3] A Bhim Army rally in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi in 2017 was attended by a large crowd,[9] estimated to be 10,000 by Delhi Police.[2]

In August 2019, the Bhim Army took part in nationwide Dalit protests against the demolition of a temple dedicated to Sant Ravidas in Tughlaqabad, Delhi, on the orders of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), following lengthy litigation between the DDA and Guru Ravidas Jainti Samaroh Samiti.[10] Dozens of people, including Chandrashekhar Azad and Vinay Ratan, were arrested by police, prompting the Bhim Army to demand their release.[11]

In December 2019, Chandrashekhar announced that the Bhim Army would formally enter electoral politics. The group previously operated as a quasi-political force.[12] Chandrashekhar stated that "We tried to join hands and work unitedly with the Bahujan Samaj Party but its leader was unwilling to do so."[12] Chandrashekhar said the new political party would set up an office in Lucknow and work to counter the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).[12] Chandrashekhar said that the new party will oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 legislation and support marginalized sectors such as Dalits and farmers, and "We may even gherao the Vidhan Sabha in support of our demands."[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ S Raju, Army seeks security for chief Chandrashekhar Azad, Hindustan Times (September 23, 2018).
  2. ^ a b c d "What is the Bhim Army?". The Indian Express. 10 May 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b Amit Ahuja, Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements (Oxford University Press, 2019), p. 206.
  4. ^ Ali, Mohammad (28 June 2017). "Bhim Army, soldiers on a literacy mission". The Hindu.
  5. ^ "After UP, Bhim Army set to rock Maharashtra". DNA India. 29 June 2017.
  6. ^ a b Mujibur Rehman, "Introduction" in Rise of Saffron Power: Reflections on Indian Politics (ed. Mujibur Rehman), p. 33, note 33.
  7. ^ "Bhim army chief arrested: Family threatens govt, Congress calls him 'victim'". Indian Express. 9 June 2017.
  8. ^ Omar Rashid, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad released from jail, says he will ensure BJP's rout in 2019, The Hindu (September 14, 2018).
  9. ^ "The Curse of Caste?". We the People. NDTV. 28 May 2017.
  10. ^ Mukesh Rawat, Explained: Why are Dalits agitated over demolition of Ravidas temple in Delhi, (August 22, 2019).
  11. ^ Bhim Army warns of movement if its top leaders are not freed, Indo-Asian News Service (August 25, 2019).
  12. ^ a b c d Bhim Army to formally join politics, Indo-Asian News Service (December 12, 2019).