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Days after 230 Dalits took up Buddhism, UP Police file FIR over conversion ‘rumours’

Members of the Valmiki community in Karera village said that they converted to Buddhism in the presence of Rajratan Ambedkar, great-grandnephew of Dr B R Ambedkar, on October 14.

Written by Amil Bhatnagar , Somya Lakhani | Ghaziabad |
Updated: October 23, 2020 11:07:27 am
Days after Dalits took up Buddhism, they face FIR for conversion ‘rumours’At Karera village in Ghaziabad. (Express file photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Days after over 230 residents of a Ghaziabad village, who are Valmikis, said that they converted to Buddhism, UP Police on Thursday filed an FIR against “unknown persons” for allegedly “spreading false rumours about religious conversion”.

Members of the Valmiki community in Karera village said that they converted to Buddhism in the presence of Rajratan Ambedkar, great-grandnephew of Dr B R Ambedkar, on October 14.

On Thursday, an FIR was filed at Sahibabad police station after a complaint was received from a 22-year-old “social worker”, Montu Chandel. The FIR has been filed under IPC Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc) and 505 (whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report).

The FIR states, “Some unknown persons and organisations spread false rumours about religious conversion of 230 people. The certificates issued in its connection bear no name and address and there is no date of issuance, nor is there a registration number. Anyone’s name can be written on it. There has been an attempt to flare caste-based tensions as per a criminal conspiracy…”

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Rajratan Ambedkar said certificates were issued to 236 people by The Buddhist Society of India, founded in 1955 by Dr Ambedkar. The certificates bear the signature of Rajratan, who is the organisation’s trustee-manager, and Bhadant Arya Nagarjuna Surai Sasai, chairman of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial Committee.

He said, “How can they say religious conversion in Karera on October 14 is a rumour? I was present there. There is a Facebook Live video of the event; there are photographs of the event. What is the basis of this FIR?”

Sahibabad circle officer Keshav Kumar said, “We are investigating the allegations. The certificates only bear the date of conversion. The allegation that the documents are not authentic will be investigated. No arrests have been made in the matter so far.”

Pawan, a resident of Karera village, who used to work as a housekeeping supervisor at an apartment complex until March, had coordinated the October 14 event. Denying allegations made by Chandel, he said that religious conversion did take place on October 14, and “we did convert”. He said, “This is not a rumour…. We don’t know this complainant. He is not a resident of the village. We have not been paid by any political party.”

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