Millennium Post

Acknowledging rights

Modifying the bail conditions in its January 16 order, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday allowed Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad to visit the National Capital for medical as well as election purposes. Attaching the liability to inform the DCP (Crime) about his schedule and day of the visit, the Court held that " in a democracy where an election is the biggest celebration, which should have maximum participation, it is fair that he should also participate". Azad's presence would lead to violence and unrest is what the prosecution was contending for in the wake of him leading the anti-CAA protest in Delhi's Jama Masjid area prior to his consequent arrest by Delhi Police. Delhi High Court's modification of the bail to grant Azad access to Delhi should have been the case since the start. Blocking someone's access to a particular city only because of apprehensions of the person participating in protest is not a ground for his limited period exile. By granting him bail and allowing him to visit Delhi, the Delhi High Court has upheld the democratic rights of the individual — access to healthcare and participation in the election. Azad, like many other protestors, may have only indulged in the right to expression through protests and yet, it was Azad alone who was singled out by the Police and thrown behind bars. In Azad, many saw a leader on December 21 when the anti-CAA protest at Jama Masjid was in procession. Charged with arson, rioting and inciting violence, Azad's bail is a victory of Constitution indeed. And, that is quite iconic for a 33-year-old Ambedkarite activist. With Delhi High Court acknowledging the violation of fundamental rights in the bail order that prevented Azad from coming to Delhi for four weeks, the presence of judiciary remains paramount, especially in conflicts where arbitrariness is highlighted.

What Delhi Police and prosecutors may have feared is Azad mobilising yet another protest which could lead to violence. But they may not have any answer should Azad end up leading a silent protest, just like students of Jamia Milia Islamia University or women at Shaheen bagh who have braved the cold winter and protested every day. The attempt made at ensuring that Azad does not find his way to such protests indicates the apprehensions that hover regarding him. Azad has grown to become a prominent figure in the anti-CAA stand in the national capital and that was evident from him addressing the crowd outside Delhi Police Headquarters in December. And, it is always easy to dissipate a gathering if the leader is brought down. That must have been the psyche behind Azad's arrest in the first place.

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