On Sunday, Dalit families of Mota Samdhiya village in Una taluka of Gujarat will convert to Buddhism to protest against discrimination against the Dalit community.
Those who will convert include people who were flogged and paraded half-naked through Una town in July 2016 by cow vigilantes, allegedly for skinning dead cattle. They are likely to be joined by around 300 Dalits from across the region, who will also embrace Buddhism.
About 300 forms, having the details of persons and their consent to convert to Buddhism, have already been collected and handed over to the district administration, but Dalits say that the numbers will go much higher as others will give their consent at a function that has been organised at Mota Samdhiya village on Sunday to mark Budh Purnima.
Buddhist monks from Porbander have been invited to preside over the function and invitations have been given to local political leaders as well.
“We got beaten and insulted in full public view almost two years ago. Several promises were made by the government, including Anandiben Patel, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat. None of those promises have been fulfilled by this government. What is the point of being a part of the religion that does not accept us as its own. After a lot of consideration, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had chosen Buddhism as the religion where there is no discrimination. I along with others will convert to Buddhism on Sunday,” Ramesh Sarvaiya, one of the victims of the Una Dalit flogging incident, told News 18.
A couple of days ago, Ramesh and his cousin were returning to their village on a motorcycle, when one of the accused in the flogging case stopped him and allegedly attacked him with a spade.
Ramesh claimed, “our motorcycle was stopped and accused Kiranbha Darbar attempted to strike me with a spade. I caught hold of it and saved myself.” He told that Kiranbha and others threatened them to withdraw the case that has been filed against them.
Ramesh said, “they also abused me because we had announced plans to convert from Hinduism to Buddhism.”
Vasram said, our leader Dr Ambedkar has shown us the path to be freed from discrimination and we are embracing Buddhism to send out a message that this discrimination against Dalits should end.”
Jitu told News18, “all the culprits in the case are out on bail and continue to threaten us even today. It has been close to two years since the incident and there has not been any justice for us. And then, the permanent issues of untouchability and discrimination are rampant against Dalits. We have informed the administration that we will convert to Buddhism on Sunday.”