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Conversion at Jantar Mantar: Some families back home say they ‘had no other option’

Around 100 Dalit families claim to have converted to Islam at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday, to protest alleged discrimination by dominant Jats at Bhagana village, around 15 km from Hisar city.

Written by Srishti Choudhary | Bhagana |
Updated: August 11, 2015 5:33:17 am
dalit families, dalit to islam, conversion, VHP protest, hinduism, delhi news, indian express Bateri, whose son is among those who has converted to Islam, says she is also ready to convert. (Sumit Malhotra)

The Dalit families of Bhagana village who returned home on Monday say they will never be Hindus again as they have faced nothing but discrimination in the religion. Around 100 Dalit families claim to have converted to Islam at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday, to protest alleged discrimination by dominant Jats at Bhagana village, around 15 km from Hisar city.

The community, constituting a little less than half of the total population of 3,000 in the village, has for the past four years been protesting the alleged discrimination and police inaction against those accused of molesting girls from their community.

“Our children are not allowed to play in the village playground, our youths are looked down upon and women face harassment every time they venture into the fields. We had no other option but to convert,” said Ramphal Kajla, one of the residents who returned from Delhi.

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With a number of the families sitting in protest at Jantar Mantar, few others at the Hisar mini-secretariat and around 20 families having shifted to Hisar, several houses in the village are now locked, leading to an uneasy silence here.

“We are stopped from entering temples, which we have never seen in other religions. Be it a sweeper or a maulvi, both will visit a mosque together. But among Hindus, we are looked down upon all the time. The so-called higher caste people have always distanced us from the mainstream. We have decided that we would take any identity in this world but will never be Hindus again,” Kajla said.

With Jats dominant in the village and the neighbouring areas, the Dalits allege that they are denied access to the Government High School, dispensary and a sports stadium.

The tension between the two communities escalated in 2012, when the panchayat constructed a wall around a small plot in front of the Dalits’ choupal. It allegedly cut off access to some Dalits houses. The wall was later brought down following court orders.

 

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