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180 Dalit families renounce Hinduism

In protest against ‘one-sided police action’ against the Bheem Army

Over 180 Dalit families living in Saharanpur district villages gathered at a canal on Friday and immersed idols of Hindu gods and goddesses in the water saying they “would much rather renounce a faith that doesn’t give them the status of being a Hindu and allows the upper caste to treat them like slaves”.

The families from Rupdi, Kapurpur, Ighri and Unali villages near Shabbirpur in Saharanpur said they had renounced Hinduism in “protest against atrocities against the Dalits by the Thakurs, and the subsequent one-sided police action against the Bheem Army”. Saharanpur district had witnessed clashes between Thakurs and Dalits earlier this month.

Narendra Gautam, who was among those who renounced Hinduism on Friday, said the families will go to Delhi to take ‘diksha’ in last week of May in order to officially convert to Buddhism. The families claimed that more people will renounce Hinduism and convert to Buddhism if the Yogi Adityanath government doesn’t stop “targeting the Dalits and the Bheem Army”.

Mr. Gautam said: “We’re taking this extreme step as a mark of protest. The Thakur community attacked and burnt our homes because we asked them to respect our saint Ravidas and not play loud music in Shabbirpur this month. Then, the UP government, headed by Mr. Adityanath, who is also a Thakur, took action against us for protesting against atrocities by the Thakurs. How long should we remain silent? At the time of elections, they call us Hindus. After the elections, they start treating us like slaves.”

Not aware: SSP

Saharanpur SSP S.C. Dubey however rejected the renouncement move as “pressure tactic” to avoid police action. The police have booked several volunteers of the Bheem Army on charges of posting “objectionable content and spreading rumours” on WhatsApp and Facebook groups on May 9, which allegedly led to violent protest by the Dalits. “I’m not aware of these conversions,” he told journalists.

The renouncement comes days after advocate Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, the founder of a Dalit outfit that works for their upliftment in the areas of education and socio-economic empowerment in Saharanpur and its vicinity, appealed to his supporters to attend the protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to show solidarity against atrocities faced by the marginalised community.

“I want to ask the Adityanath government why the entire administration remained a mute spectator as 56 houses and 40 shops burnt to the ground, and hundreds of Dalit brothers and sisters were assaulted and humiliated? The administration didn’t do anything against the injustice and atrocities. When the Bheem Army tried to protest peacefully, they weren’t allowed to do so ,” Mr. Gautam added.

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