NATIONAL

Togadia's charges baseless: Udit Raj

NEW DELHI NOV. 7. The Chairman of the All-India SC\ST Confederation, Udit Raj, today strongly condemned the personal attack against him by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) general secretary, Praveen Togadia, who alleged that he was on the ``payroll of Christians''. Such ``behaviour was uncivilised'' and more conversions would be organised to protest against the continued harassment of the Dalits, he said.

Terming the charges as baseless and designed to malign him, he said the confederation had consciously chosen the policy of inclusion and assimilation of the minorities and Christians with the Dalits, and said ``working and associating with them is both natural and fraternal''.

Elaborating the confederation's action plan after the Jhajjar incident, Mr. Raj said a massive rally would be held at the Ram Lila grounds on November 24 to protest Mr. Togadia's ``uncultured behaviour''. The focus would also be on issues such as disinvestment and extension of reservation to the private sector.

A mass conversion ceremony would be organised in association with regional groups in Chennai on December 6 as a symbolic protest against the Anti-Conversion Act of the Tamil Nadu Government. More than 25,000 people were expected to participate and they would be free to choose any religion they liked.

Hinting at a possible electoral foray in Gujarat, he said the confederation may extend support to candidates. It had already initiated the groundwork to pre-empt the recurrence of violence by uniting Dalits through a `Gujarat bachao rathyatra' and intensive local meetings in each district.

He said at a press conference that a number of Dalits had embraced Buddhism at a conversion ceremony in Haryana on November 4, held under the leadership of Satya Prakash, president of the Lord Buddha Club.

``The Jhajjar conversions were a direct reaction to the lynching of Dalits in the region and the confederation will wage a concerted battle against the forces of communalism, especially the VHP.''

Reacting to the VHP leaders' remarks, Mr. Raj said the real traitor of the country was the caste system and those who preached it. ``How can the VHP demand a character certificate from other organisations when it has suspended an independent inquiry into its own accounts.''

Urging the Supreme Court to curb the unrestrained actions of senior leaders, he said the secular framework of the nation was endangered as ``the VHP is not the sole representative of the entire Hindu population and it is misleading the people''.

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