DALIT leader Ramdas Bandu Athawale, the newly inducted Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, has said that protection of cows should not be at the expense of human lives. He asked the government to ensure that incidents, such as the recent flogging of youths from his community by gau rakshaks in Gujarat’s Una, are not repeated.
In an interview to The Indian Express, the veteran leader from Maharashtra and president of the Republican Party of India (RPI), also called on Dalits to convert to Buddhism and asked why BSP leader Mayawati was yet to do so.
Describing the Una incident as “very serious”, Athawale said, “I want to ask gau rakshaks: There is a law against gau hatya (killing of cows), you continue with gau raksha (protection of cows) but why do manav hatya (killing of human beings)? If you do gau raksha, who will do manav raksha (protection of human beings)?”
Attacking Mayawati’s position as a leader of Dalits, Athawale said, “Why is Mayawati not Buddhist yet, if she claims to be a true Ambedkarite? She keeps criticising Manuvaad (casteism), talks about conversions but has not accepted Buddhism. She announced her conversion many times but remains a Hindu. Dalits should embrace Buddhism.”