Born as Hindu, but will die as Muslim, say Dalits after conversion in Delhi
New Delhi, 08 August 2015: More than 50 members of the Hindu Dalit community converted to Islam near Parliament House here on Saturday afternoon. They recited Kalimah and offered Namaz on the roadside at Jantar Mantar. They had made their intension public a week ago. They had been holding sit-in at Jantar Mantar for over two years seeking justice for the atrocities allegedly unleashed on them by members of Hindu Jat community in Bhagana village of Hisar district in Haryana.
"We have been facing untouchability, atrocity, boycott and gang-rape - at the root of all these problems is the Hinduwadi system. While living in this system, no friend from outside helps us saying it is our internal issue. We have thought that if we have to save our future, if not present, then we will have to go out of this system," said Satish Kajla wearing a white Muslim skullcap. He is one of the victims who converted to Islam today.
If you get justice tomorrow, will you remove this Muslim cap and go out of Islam?
"Never. Never. Even if we get justice we will not return to Hindu religion," Kajla said.
Facing alleged persecution and boycott by upper caste Hindus in Hisar for over four years, they had hinted at converting to Islam. In a written statement, the victim families had said some of the victims have already converted to Islam in protest against the atrocities of upper caste Hindus.
"Continuously facing untouchability, atrocities and injustice, 500 families of Bhagana (village) will convert in front of the Parliament House in New Delhi and will demand arrest of culprits and guilty officers and restoration to their homes," Bhagana Sangharsh Samiti, a committee formed by the victim families to fight for justice, had said.
"Bhagana victims have been running from pillar to post for justice for the last four years. Despite dozens of protests, court arrests and continuous sit-in from Hisar to Jantar Mantar, the Dalits have not got justice, security and respect. Saddened with the atrocities of upper caste Hindus, some victims have converted to Islam as a mark of protest," said the Samiti.
According to the Samiti, Khap Panchayats had boycotted 250 Dalit families and forced them to flee the village in 2011. The Jats illegally occupied 280 acres of land and stopped Dalits from using them. "When we went to lodge a complaint with the administration against the atrocities, the local police, under pressure from the upper-caste Jats, registered a case of sedition against the victims themselves and sent them to jail," claimed Samiti. The Dalits were attacked and their minors were gang-raped, it said.
"We had to leave our village on 21 May 2012 as our life had become miserable - barbers were not cutting our hair, facing problems while travelling. Our kids were removed from schools, we were pushed out of temples, denied using pond, general stores. Khap panchayat warned that whoever maintains relations with us he will be slapped with a fine of Rs 1100," said Virendra Singh Bagoria of Bhagana Sangharsh Samiti. Bagoria also converted to Islam today.
"We put our case before authorities; none heard us, met politicians, local MLAs, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi but none cared for us. New government came both in Haryana and Centre and hoped they will hear us. Rather than resolving our issues, this government imposed cases on us while were protesting peacefully in Hisar," said Bagoria.
"After we left village, the government said there is peace in the village. But in between, they have kidnapped four minors and raped them. A person from backward community was gunned down in full public view. Two girls were also kidnaped and raped and they became pregnant. Even five days ago, a girl from backward class was forcibly lifted and married. Notwithstanding, the government says there is peace and communal harmony in the village," he said.
"Hindu leaders do not consider us human; they do not want to give us justice. They don't want to give us share in the resources and system of the country. Life was getting miserable and this has forced our heart to change faith; we cannot live in this Hindu system and we have embraced Islam," said Bagoria.
Sanjay Bura, a youth from the Jat community, also changed his religion.
"I belong to the caste which unleashed atrocities on these Dalits. I stood in solidarity with them in their grief. I consider myself as a Dalit. I have seen their pain not only in Bhagana but other places also. I have also converted to Islam along with them," said Bura.
"The Varna system in Hindu religion allows untouchability and discrimination with men. I am against this system. The new government (of BJP) is working on special agenda and capturing constitutional institutions. They work according to the Manuwadi agenda to suppress dalits and minorities," he said.
"I support ideas of unity and equality. Islam is seen as a great example of quality in the world. I have faith in it," Bura said.
Many sounded very grieved with the situation as no political parties are listening to them.
"Constitution is nothing but law only in book. There is only rule of musclemen. If your stick is powerful then you have all things. Otherwise you have nothing. I was definitely born as Hindu but I will not die as Hindu," said a protestor.