Chandrashekhar Azad, leader of the Bhim Army and the president of the Azad Samaj Party, on Thursday said he escaped by ducking just in time as an unknown number of assailants fired at least four bullets at his car a day ago in the state’s Saharanpur district.
Mr Azad was visiting an activist whose mother had recently died in the Deoband district. On his way back, his car was fired upon by armed men near Deoband, leaving him wounded. One bullet grazed him, and shrapnel entered his back.
In an interview with NDTV from his hospital bed, Mr Azad detailed the attack, stating that his car was next to the attackers’ vehicle when they fired four bullets. One of the bullets came from the front, prompting him to duck, while another entered the backrest near his waist. The attackers then stopped their car in front of his, spoke to him, and fired two more bullets into the air.
“A bullet came from the front and I ducked. The second bullet entered the cushion, touching my waist. The windscreen and the rear glass shattered as they fired again. Then he (one attacker) stopped the car in front and said something to me and fired two bullets in the air,” he said.
Seeing the assailants’ car, Mr Azad said did not engage but instead drove to a nearby village, where he discovered he was bleeding from his waist. He promptly contacted the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) from the scene.
“I saw there that blood was coming out of my waist. I called SSP there. I saw one boy, but I could not see the others. They seemed to have a desi katta,” he said, referring to the colloquial term for a homemade gun common in India.
Mr Azad, who founded the Azad Samaj Party in March 2020, expressed disbelief that such an incident could occur on a highway in his home state. Despite the attack, he said, he remained undeterred and has vowed to continue his fight against social inequality in adherence to the constitution.
“I have no enmity with anyone. I am not afraid of bullets, but I say that I will continue to fight according to the constitution, I am asking all supporters to keep calm. I will not sit still,” Mr Azad said, announcing that he would proceed with a planned rally on July 1 in Bharatpur, Rajasthan.
The attack on Azad has brought intense scrutiny to the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh. The opposition Samajwadi Party has criticised the state government, with its president and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav questioning the safety of people’s representatives under BJP rule.
The Saharanpur police are trying to track the assailants, sealing the district borders and enlisting the help of neighbouring areas. The vehicle used in the attack reportedly carried a Haryana registration number.