Shyam Singh, a Dalit resident of Jamalpur Goba village in Sardhna, has threatened that he and other members of his community (Valmiki) would convert to Islam on Republic Day if they do not get permission to perform a puja and carry out the Valmiki Shoba Yatra at Luv Kush Janma Bhoomi Valmiki Ashram here.
“I met the Mahant of the Ashram on October 8 and requested him to permit us to carry out the puja on the premises. But he warned me of dire consequences if I was seen near the premises. He told me that members of my caste eat meat and drink liquor and hence cannot be permitted to carry out religious functions at the Ashram,” Singh told The Indian Express over the phone.
“I have sent a letter to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in this connection. My family and nine other families belonging to the Valmiki Samaj of my village will accept Islam if we were not allowed to perform puja, take out Shobha Yatra and arrange a Bhandara at the Ashram,” he added.
Shyam Singh will meet the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Balaini on January 10 to press for permission.
The Mahant, Lakshyadevenand, claimed that the temple was open to all. “But taking out the Shobha Yatara and holding of Bhandara cannot be allowed as there have been three murders on the premises while these religious functions were being performed. The onus will be on the local administration if permission is given,” he said.
He also claimed that the issue was being politicised for vested interests. “A few groups of both communities are emphasising on conversion for last few months for their political interests. I would like to clarify again that the temple is open for all,” said the Mahant.
Shyam Singh also claimed that he was forced by the local police to give in writing that he has nothing against the Mahant. “The police forced me to say that I have no grudge against the Mahant,” he said.
“He has given in writing that whatever he said was because he was guided by a few persons who had their interest to serve at the Ashram. We will not allow anyone to disturb the law and order,” said R K Sisodia, Balini police station in-charge.