Ground Report: Who is Chheddu Chamar Who was Pushed Out From the Nomination Site by a Police Officer?

For the past few days, a viral video featuring a Uttar Pradesh police officer threatening individuals with the words, "Leave this place, do you dare to challenge us here? I'll straighten you out," has been circulating on social media.
Ground Report: Who is Chheddu Chamar Who was Pushed Out From the Nomination Site by a Police Officer?

Kaushambi- The incident occurred during the candidate nomination process for the Lok Sabha elections on May 3 in Kaushambi district, where it's alleged that a higher-caste Circle Officer (CO) forcibly removed a Dalit candidate named Chheddu Chamar.

Subsequently, the following day, this candidate's nomination was rejected. In an effort to investigate these events thoroughly, The Mooknayak's team traveled to Kaushambi.

In the village of Taibapur Shamshabad, situated approximately 10 kilometers from Manjhanpur, the district headquarters of Kaushambi, we encountered a modest dwelling where Chheddu Chamar resides. The house, constructed of mud walls supporting a roof adorned with weathered tiles, appeared humble.

Surrounding the dwelling, scattered across an empty plot, were old aluminium and steel utensils. Adjacent to the dwelling, a bicycle leaned against a small mud wall, bearing newly acquired aluminium utensils—a poignant representation of Chheddu Chamar's means of sustenance.

Speaking to The Mooknayak, Chheddu expressed, "Something terribly unjust has occurred to me. I come from a lineage that contributed to crafting the Constitution of India. My journey in electoral contests spans over 24 years, far exceeding even the participation of the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Despite facing defeat in previous elections, I never experienced such profound sorrow. However, this time is different. It marks the first instance in my life where I feel marginalized and economically disadvantaged. It's the first time I sense the weight of age upon me."

Chheddu Chamar's wife recounted the events of that day, stating, "I've never discouraged him from contesting elections; it brings him joy. But that day, many injustices unfolded. I was by his side throughout. In fact, I'm also listed as his proposer for this election. After we completed the nomination process, we emerged from the venue where several media personnel were present. My husband had a drum slung around his neck, and when asked by the media to play it, he initially declined.

However, after persistent requests, he obliged. This seemingly irked the police officers, who responded with aggression, hurling insults and forcibly ejecting him from the nomination site."

Chheddu Chamar, residing in a mud house, has not benefited from the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Coming from a financially disadvantaged background, he sustains his family by selling utensils. According to Chheddu's wife, their persistent engagement in electoral contests has deprived them of government housing assistance.

They currently inhabit a two-room mud dwelling, with Chheddu's room measuring approximately 5 x 10 feet. The kitchen adjoins this room, equipped with a mud stove and wood.

A cot occupies one side for seating and resting, while an adjoining room is accessible from here. The house features a roof crafted from wood and bamboo. Inside, ration sacks are stacked in one corner, alongside an old fan and utensils, bearing signs of wear and hardship, a testament to Chheddu's impoverished circumstances.

Chheddu Chamar, recounting his political journey, highlighted his victory in the 2000 Area Panchayat Member (BDC) election, where he defeated his own uncle Dharmaraj by a margin of 195 votes from the Shamsabad Area Panchayat.

Subsequently, for the past 24 years, he has actively participated in various electoral contests, including two Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, as well as three District Panchayat elections, in addition to area and gram panchayat elections.

However, on May 3, 2024, in Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh, an unfortunate incident occurred during the nomination process. Chheddu Chamar, who was present at the nomination site as an independent candidate, was pushed out by CO Manjhanpur, who was deployed for security.

This action was prompted by Chheddu's decision to play the drum at the nomination site. The video capturing this incident quickly circulated on social media, drawing widespread attention.

In response to the rejection of his nomination, Chheddu expressed his belief that it was a deliberate act. He asserted that he had meticulously prepared all the necessary documents for the election, ensuring their verification by both himself and a government lawyer.

Chheddu claimed that CO Manjhanpur's aggressive behavior, as seen in the viral video, led to his expulsion from the nomination site. Despite the rejection, Chheddu believed he had garnered significant public support and was confident of victory in the election. He attributed the forced rejection of his nomination to the fear instilled by his growing public support among the electorate.

The Election Commission of India found itself powerless in the face of the District Election Officer's authority, according to Chheddu. He lamented, "Despite the Election Commission of India's request for a detailed report on the matter, the District Magistrate has submitted a report according to his own preferences. Even the Election Officer in Delhi remains silent, unable to challenge the decisions made by the District Election Officer."

Undeterred by the rejection of his nomination, independent candidate Chheddu Chamar declared his intent to contest elections elsewhere. Fueled by determination, he stated, "This District Magistrate may have denied me, but I will persevere. In the upcoming phases, I will seek election in a different district. Defeat is not an option for me. If an opportunity arises where a Lok Sabha seat becomes vacant, I will seize it without hesitation."

Following the circulation of the video depicting the CO's misconduct towards Chheddu Chamar, the Bhim Army and Azad Samaj Party (ASP) rallied behind him in solidarity. Office in-charge Amit Gautam expressed, "The reprehensible treatment of Chheddu Chamar cannot be overlooked. In support of him, the Azad Samaj Party withdrew the nomination of ASPA candidate Sunil Kumar. However, to our dismay, we learned the next day that Chheddu's nomination had also been rejected."

Chheddu Chamar faced the rejection of his nomination on May 4, prompting Bhim Army candidate Sunil Kumar and his team to visit Chheddu's residence the following Sunday morning. Sunil Kumar criticized the government, denouncing the deliberate rejection of Chheddu's nomination as a planned act of dictatorship.

He pledged unwavering support for Chheddu in future electoral endeavors.

Hailing from Taibapur Shamshabad in Sirathu tehsil, Chheddu previously contested against Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya in the 2022 Sirathu assembly elections. Known for his fervent passion for electoral participation, Chheddu sacrifices his personal needs and diligently raises funds to cover campaign expenses.

He traverses the locality on a bicycle, captivating audiences with his drumming and a banner draped around his neck, urging support for his cause.

Attempts to reach the District Election Officer were made by The Mooknayak, but their stenographer informed that the officer was engaged in a meeting. However, according to certain media reports, District Election Officer Rajesh Kumar Rai cited incomplete paperwork as the reason for Chheddu's nomination rejection.

He also mentioned that several other nominations faced similar outcomes, with details to be shared with the media at a later time.

-Story Translated by Ayanbha Banerjee

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