Around 80 Valmiki families in Rampur have announced to embrace Islam in order to “save their houses from demolition”. Five of them have even started an indefinite hunger strike against the government’s plan to widen the roads in Topkhana locality, as the municipal body said, by clearing the “encroachments”.
The police have registered a case against 86 members of the Valmiki community for staging an agitation against UP Urban Development Minister Azam Khan, after protests by SP workers.
The issue began on April 6 when municipal authorities marked the houses for demolition at Topkhana locality. SP’s district unit office is located on same road and the civic body is also constructing a multi-storeyed ‘Gandhi Mall’ in the same locality.
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“We held the agitation as Valmiki community are living in the locality for 60 years and our houses are in danger. Now, they don’t want us to live near the beautiful mall as our houses are spoiling its beauty,” Eklavya Valmiki, who is named in the FIR, told The Indian Express. He is also an office bearer of Valmiki Basti Bachao Sangarsh Samiti, which is leading the agitation.
Left with “no option”, the affected families have announced that they would embrace Islam on April 14 on Ambedkar Jayanti, if the conversion helps them save their homes. “If that is the guarantee when our houses can be saved we will become Muslims. There is no other option. The roads in Muslim locality is quite narrow but our road is being widened,” Eklavya claimed. The Valmiki organisation has also issued a press statement in this regard.
Police authorities took serious note of slogans against Azam Khan and transferred seven policemen of the local police station to reserve police lines.
Azhar Ahmed Khan, Chairman Nagar Palika Rampur, said, “We are just removing encroachment from government land. We will take legal action. It is just pressure tactics. One becomes Muslim from heart. It is an RSS ploy,” he alleged.