WEST ZONE chief of RSS Jayanti Bhadesia on Wednesday said religious conversion of Dalits and tribals in Gujarat was “not a serious issue” and that it could be tackled by reaching out to these communities.
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“I don’t think Dalits are converting to Buddhism in an alarming rate. The issue can be solved by reaching out to that section of the society. Our efforts are on. We are holding samrasta sammelans since 2006. We did hold a sammelan in Una after the incident (of alleged gau rakshaks beating up seven Dalits) to send out a message of harmony and convince them (Dalits) that we were with them,” said Bhadesia, who was in the city to interact with the media as part of the RSS plan to reach out to more people as decided during its annual meeting in Hyderabad between October 23 and October 25.
Incidentally, thousands of Dalits had reportedly converted to Buddhism at an event in Junagadh in 2013. More than 300 Dalits converted earier this month with many of them citing the Una incident as catalyst.
The RSS leader further said religious conversion of tribals was also not a cause of alarm. “It has gone down much in recent years. We will have to form a connection with them and make them feel that they are part of the society,” said Bhadesia.
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The RSS leader said that they have planned a drive to reach out to tribals in the state the next month.
“In November, women will launch a vanvasi sampark abhiyan (tribal-contact drive). A similar drive had been conducted in 2001 before the earthquake. Women from entire state had spent three days in tribal areas of the state. Objectives is to study lives of the forest dwellers and experience it first hand to know issues concerning them and to make the tribals feel that they are also part of the society. We had got very good response back then,” said Bhadesia.
This time too, he said, women will stay in tribal areas for three days.
“Around 3,000 women will visit nine tribal-dominated districts in the state for three days beginning from November 11. These women will be from families of RSS swayamsevaks, their neighbours and supporters,” he further said.
The west zone of RSS covers Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa states.