TIME, on Wednesday, released 2021 TIME100 Next, an expansion of TIME’s flagship TIME100 franchise of the most influential people in the world. The list highlights 100 emerging leaders who, as per TIME, are shaping the future. Interestingly, the list mentions the name of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad.
Azad is mentioned with the likes the UK’s Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, Twitter’s top lawyer Vijaya Gadde, Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta, doctor and Executive Director of non-profit GET US PPE Shikha Gupta and founder of non-profit Upsolve Rohan Pavuluri.
Speaking on the list, Editorial Director of TIME100 Dan Macsai said, “Everyone on the list is poised to make history. And, in fact, many already have”.
Azad spearheaded a campaign for justice in Hathras case, says his TIME profile
Chandrashekhar Azad’s TIME profile describes him as the leader of the Bhim Army, which runs schools to help Dalits escape poverty through education and also “practices a distinct brand of assertiveness, sweeping into villages on loud motorbikes to protect victims of caste-based violence and organising provocative demonstrations against discrimination”.
It further says Azad and Bhim Army also “spearheaded a campaign for justice” in Uttar Pradesh when the “investigation of the fatal gang-rape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman, allegedly perpetrated by four dominant-caste men” was delayed by the police.
The profile mentions that Azad “also lent his support to several other progressive movements, including recently to farmers protesting against corporate agricultural reforms”. Describing his “aura”, his TIME profile mentions how “Aazad’s luxuriant moustache…is a form of resistance”.
How Bhim Army interfered with the investigation in Hathras Case
Azad’s Bhim Army was accused of interfering in the investigation of the Hathras case after three of their men were reportedly found living with the family of the victim claiming to be their relatives. As per reports, three persons of Bhim Army including a woman from Madhya Pradesh had lived with the victim’s family pretending to be their relatives. Azad alias ‘Ravan’ had reportedly met the victim on September 27, two days before she succumbed to her injuries and the matter was politicised.
The three Bhim Army workers were actively giving media statements and targeting the state government and the administration. The police grew suspicious after it was decided that police protection would be provided to each member of the victim’s family and the police started inquiring about the immediate family members. That’s when the Bhim Army workers reportedly slipped away silently.
When Chandrashekhar Azad’s abusive tweets went viral on Twitter
In June last year, a compilation of screenshots of Azad’s abusive tweets from the past had gone viral on Twitter. Most of the tweets dated back to 2018 wherein Azad used extremely derogatory and cheap Hindi slangs to insult women with a different ideological bent.
In almost all his tweets, the Bhim Army chief called all the women who supported Prime Minister Modi as “Dallas” (pimps) and “prostitutes” accusing them of selling their bodies to BJP leaders. The National Commission for Women had taken cognisance of Azad’s abusive tweets.
In the same month last year, Azad was also accused of donating blood at AIIMS-Delhi without informing the doctors about his alleged blood disease that made him unfit to donate blood. Neither Azad nor did his physician Dr. Harjit Singh Bhatti, who accompanied him to the AIIMS, reveal his medical condition before donating the blood. Later on, it was revealed that Azad was suffering from polycythemia vera, a blood disorder.
Last year, TIME had included the name of a 82-year-old anti-CAA protestor named Bilkis in its list of ‘100 Most Influential People of 2020’.