236 Hindu Dalits convert to Buddhism in UP to protest against rising atrocities

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Family members of the Balrampur rape victim have also converted to Buddhism

By Muslim Mirror

As many as … quit Hinduism and converted to Buddhism  in protest against atrocities taking place against the community in Uttar Pradesh under the government of Yogi Adityanath.

They converted on 14 October at a ceremony t a ceremony in Ghaziabad’s Karhera village. The date of conversion—14 October–was chosen for its historical significance. It was on 14 October, 1956, that a mass conversion to Buddhism from Hinduism was organised under the leadership of Dr. Ambdekar.

Dr Ambedkar’s great- grandnephew and the Budhist Society of India’s president Rajratna Ambedkar was present on the occasion. The ceremony was also attended by  Shashikant M Jadhav, treasurer and Bhante Nibban, member of All India Bhikkhu Sangha.

In presence of the Buddhist monks, the group was administered the 22 vows of Buddhism and were given a certificate of conversion by the Buddhist Society of India, founded by B R Ambedkar in 1955.

The development comes after a series of murder and rapes cases took place against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh and the state administration was strongly criticised for failing to ensure safety for Dalits and subsequently cracking down on protestors.

The family members of the Balrampur rape victim have also converted to Buddhism amid fear and oppression as they felt it was the only way out for them. Even the kin of Hathras victim might convert but they are under extreme pressure and constant surveillance by the authorities, Rajratna Ambedkar told Media India Group (MIG).

“No matter how much we study, work or rebel, the upper castes look down upon us and treats us as inferior humans. We are made to feel that we are not an equal citizen of the society or country. Be it the recent Hathras rape case or other instances of violence against dalits, we continue to suffer every day and at every place,” Shashikant M Jadhav told MIG.

Ambedkar said that the data on crimes against dalits are certainly alarming. Since 2014, crimes and atrocities have increased. After the violence and rape cases against Dalit women in Hathras and Balrampur, Dalits have started to feel more insecure than ever.

“The demand for conversion to Buddhism has increased manifold across the country, especially in Uttar Pradesh. People belonging to the dalit community and other scheduled castes are opting for leaving Hinduism and embracing Buddhism as an act of liberation and to come out of the cyclic nature of fear and oppression,” he said while speaking to MIG.

Ambedkar also says that the dalits have lost all faith in the institutions of justice and authorities after the Hathras case. “The police and authorities are part of the problem in the state. There is upper caste supremacy at all levels and unfortunately, they are the ones who turn a blind eye to the violence against the lower castes and sometimes, like in Hathras incident, become oppressors instead,” he says.

“Even though the atrocities against dalits won’t immediately stop after conversion, but the act itself is empowering. In absence of any strong political representation from the dalit, the conversion is a challenge to the core of the oppressor’s supremacy. The recent mass conversion of dalits in Uttar Pradesh are acts of revolution against the caste supremacy and suppression that is being forced upon them by the society,” says Ambedkar.

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