In submission to Gujarat Governor, Dalits seek softening of conversion rules

The Manch also demanded that Buddhist caves, statues and monuments be protected and conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published:September 4, 2016 4:20 am
The Delwadias turned to Buddhism at a mass conversion event last month. (express Photo by Javed Raja) The Delwadias turned to Buddhism at a mass conversion event last month. (express Photo by Javed Raja)

The Gujarat Dalit Sanman Sangharsh Manch (GDSSM) has demanded that prior permission of the district magistrate (DM) for conducting a religious conversion ceremony or prior intimation to the DM about individuals attending such a programme be dropped from the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2004.

This is a part of 25 demands running into two pages submitted to Governor O P Kohli Saturday.

Manch convener Jayanti Makadiya told The Sunday Express that he explained to the governor that the said provision was in violation of the fundamental right to freedom of conscience and freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. Makadiya said that those trying to convert faced lot of problem because of this provision as the government authorities harassed those willing to convert as well as those willing to attend the conversion ceremony because of prevailing political situation.

The Manch also demanded that Buddhist caves, statues and monuments be protected and conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Accompanied by Balu Sarvaiya of Mota Samadhiyala village, whose seven family members were brutally flogged by cow vigilantes in Una on July 11, the Manch demanded rehabilitation of all Dalit families of Samadhiyala, withdrawal of all cases registered against Dalit youths during the Dalit agitation and allotment of agriculture land or government job to those Dalit families who wanted to leave skinning and tanning work.

Urging the government to stop recruitment of employees on fixed salary for a period of five years before regularisation of their services, the Manch strongly demanded to fill the backlog of all SC, ST vacancies in government departments and bring laws for reservation in private sector. Makadiya said the reservation in private sector had become necessary because of dwindling jobs in government or and many government undertakings being privatised gradually.

Asked what was the response of the Governor, Makadiya said he told that he would try to solve their problems as far as possible.