Destroying crops, social boycott and imposition of fine were among the measures discussed on Sunday by the Dalit community members, who met in Khaniyadhana in Shivpuri district, to prevent future conversions to Islam.
The meeting was attended by over 500 Dalits from 101 villages of Khaniyadhana block in the wake of conversions to Islam, and the campaign launched by right-wing organisations to bring back to Hinduism those who have changed their faith.
The police had last week arrested four Dalits for converting to Islam without taking permission from district authorities as mandated by the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act. More persons wanted to change their religion but their applications were rejected.
Shaken by the developments and the allegations by Dalits that some of them were driven to seek conversion to Islam as there was no let up in caste discrimination, Hindu organisations convinced Samasta Ahirwar Samaj to organise a meeting.
One of the main points on the agenda was to convince Kasim and Ibrahim to return to Hinduism. The two brothers refused to return to Hinduism while their father Maniram, mother and youngest brother and other relatives reconverted to Hinduism Thursday.
Kasim, who was probably the first person from the region to embrace Islam, sought 10 days to make up his mind, but told the meeting it would be better if they all embraced Buddhism as practiced by B R Ambedkar.
When many voiced their concerns about caste-based discrimination, community leaders said the victims should approach the police and other authorities to seek legal remedy.
Brijesh Jatav and Sardar, who attended the meeting, told The Indian Express that several punitive measures were discussed. Destroying standing crops, dispossession of land and other property, ex-communication, fine to the tune of Rs 10,000 and possible conversion to Buddhism were among the measures discussed.
Meanwhile, right-wing activist Chandrashekhar Purohit said the family members of the brothers have been warned to ensure they return to Hinduism as soon as possible. Referring to the 10-day breather sought by Kasim, he said the Hindu organisations will ask their parents for a detailed explanation if the duo does not return to Hinduism within the deadline.
Purohit and Manoj Sharma, another activist who organised Thursday’s reconversion event, said Hindu bodies were against the idea of ex-communication saying it would not serve as a deterrent because those who convert to Islam anyway sever ties with their community.