Gujarat : Over 300 Dalits Convert to Buddhism
AHMEDABAD: In three separate events organized by Buddhist organizations, over 200 people from the Dalit community from Gujarat converted to Buddhism here on the occasion of Vijaya Dashmi, organisers said Wednesday.
Another 90 from the state converted to Buddhism in Nagpur, taking the total to over 300 Dalits. As per the organizers, though conversions are carried out every year on Vijaya Dashmi, this year the numbers were high on account of the Una Dalit beating incident.
Ramesh Banker, a member of Gujarat Buddhist Academy said “As many as 140 Dalits converted to Buddhism at an event organised by Gujarat Buddhist Society in Dani Limda locality of Ahmedabad yesterday to mark Vijaya Dashmi.”
Sixty-five people from the Dalit Community converted to Buddhism at a separate event organised in Kalol in Gandhinagar district, while 11 more converted in Wadhwan in Surendranagar district. Some of them also embraced Buddhism at an event at Kalol.
A total of 65 persons converted at this event, P G Jyotikar of Buddhist Society of India, said.
He said while conversion is an ongoing event, the Dalits prefer to embrace Buddhism on Vijaya Dashmi because on this day in 1956, Babasaheb B R Ambedkar took to Buddhism alongwith other Dalits at an event in Nagpur.
“Most Dalits prefer this day for conversion, as Ambedkar himself converted to Buddhism on this day in 1956. The reaction to the Una Dalit atrocity incident was evident in response we received from the converts,” Jyotikar said.
While a total 216 Dalits converted to Buddhism at events organized in Gujarat, as per Banker’s claim around 90 more from the state converted to the religion at Nagpur, where Dalits from all over the country gather for conversion.
“With this, more than 300 Dalits in the state converted to Buddhism,” he claimed.
“It has not come to our notice,” Surendranagar Collector Uday Agrawal said.
Those who embraced the new religion said giving reason for their decision that they converted to Buddhism because it is a “more humane religion” than Hinduism.
“Buddhism is a humanist religion that offers equality to fellow Buddhists without any stratification of caste that we see in Hinduism, and therefore, we converted to Buddhism. Equality provides more opportunity to an individual to grow,” said Arvindsinh Chauhan.
Darshana Chauhan, who also converted to Buddhism at the Ahmedabad function, said incidents like Una where Dalits were brutally thrashed allegedly for skinning a dead cow, is “not uncommon” in the country.
“Atrocity on Dalits takes place everywhere in the country because of inequality in Hinduism. We converted to Buddhism because in this religion everybody is considered equal,” she said.
On July 11, seven Dalits of Mota Samadhiyala village of Una taluka in Gir-Somnath district were beaten allegedly by self proclaiming cow vigilantes when they were found skinning a dead cow.
The matter came to light after a video went viral on different social media platforms. As the matter created massive uproar, then Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel handed over the investigation to CID-Crime on July 18 following which over 40 people were arrested.