Chandrashekhar Azad, the dashing young Dalit leader from Saharanpur, always wanted to visit Mumbai to pay homage to Dr. BR Ambedkar at his memorial at Chaityabhoomi. He got the opportunity when he was invited to address a rally that was to take place on December 29. But his maiden visit to the city that never sleeps turned into a virtual nightmare, replete with an unconstitutional detention at his hotel, followed by a ride across the city in police a police van! After a three hour ride while he and his colleagues from north India were deposited back at the Malad east hotel, several colleagues from Bhim Army Maharashtra, including Ashok Kamble and others were detained/ arrested by the police. At the time of filing this story at 10:30 pm, they had finally reached the Malad hotel. Speaking about the whole experience, (late night on Friday), Chandrashekhar, who is not new to institutional violence having spent a year and a half in jail after being embroiled in multiple cases (in which he got bail) and even the draconian National Security Act, said, "I will remain in Maharashtra till all my other colleagues wrongfully arrested tonight are released. I also wish to extend my gratitude to colleagues and compatriots from different social movements who stood by Bhim Army at this time."
Azad arrived on December 28 to attend a rally the following day, but the police denied permission for the event just a day before it was scheduled. On the morning of December 28, the Mumbai Police issued a notice not only denying permission but also issuing prohibitory orders citing possibility of law and order problems based on confidential intel received. They also deployed a fleet of police vehicles outside the hotel in Malad where Azad was staying.
Shortly after 1 pm when Azad was to leave his hotel to come shoot a video interview with Sabrang India, police denied him and his supporters permission to leave the hotel premises. Forced to stay put Azad managed to wave to his supporters from his hotel room window and then recorded a video message that was shared on social media."I won't stop or bow down and I won't be bought," said the dashing Azad. "I'm being held captive in Manali Hotel. I have come to this land of Babasaheb Ambedkar the first time. I wanted to pay him my respects. I want to know under which Act have I been detained," he added in the video message.
Later at about 8pm, the police allowed him to visit Chaityabhoomi. He was taken there with his Bhim Army associates in a police convoy. He was allowed just to step down before being herded with supporters into a police man. Azad had planned a half hour peacefully meditation but this he was denied: being simply herded into a police van and taken on quite the ride.
Sabrang India team called three nearest police stations; Shivaji Park Police Station, Mahim Police Station and Dadar Police Station to find out if Azad had been arrested, but all three denied it. In the meantime one of the Bhim Army supporters turned on the live location tracking feature on his phone and allowed Sabrng India to trace their movements in real time.
We first found them on LJ Road, very close to Mahim Police Station. There vehicle was headed north. Then they turned right on the Western Express Highway and kept proceeding north. They crossed both, the Domestic and International Airports. But when the reached Goregan, they took a sudden U-turn and started going South. The vehicle stopped close to the Vanrai Police station and appeared to stay there for close to half and hour before the tracking application was disabled. But close to 10:20 we received a call from one of the Bhim Army members who was travelling with Chandrashekhar Azad in the same vehicle, that they were being taken back to the hotel in Malad.
Here are screen grabs of their live location at different points showing the route the police took.