Disillusioned by the “manuwadi” Hindu religion and the hypocritical role that leaders of the “Hindu party” have played in using Dalits for political gains, a section of the community’s youth is renouncing the religion of their birth.
Among thousands of Dalits gathered at Jantar Mantar on Sunday to mark their protest for the “wrongful” arrest of Bhim Army’s leader Chandrashekhar Azad, a group of youngsters in their 20s said that the issue of ‘caste’ is too deep-rooted in the Hindu society to go away with economic growth or modernisation.
“I witnessed the hypocrisy of the religion when at a temple I saw people offering thousands of rupees, and outside the same temple, a poor girl was begging for few rupees and people were avoiding her,” said 21-year-old Kamal Gautam.
A resident of Bishenpur village in Saharanpur district, a disenchanted Gautam is preparing for a mass conversion of Dalits at his village on 26 November this year.
“Our village has a population of 2,500, most of them are Dalits. On 26 November, which is celebrated as Constitution Day in our country, 1,000 residents of our village will renounce Hinduism and accept Buddhism,” Gautam said.
A student of Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Gautam said that at the bottom of the Saharanpur violence is BJP’s quest for using Dalits against Muslims in the region.
“Raghav Lakhanpal, the Member of Parliament from Saharanpur wants Dalits to be used against Muslims in the area. Chandrashekhar didn’t agree with him so he was portrayed as a villain and implicated in several false cases by the administration,” Gautam added.
Gautam’s friend and neighbour Surender, who also came to Jantar Mantar for the protest gathering, said that he has thrown all the idols and posters of Hindu deities out from his house.
Not afraid of letting go the government benefits which being from Scheduled Caste could give him, a proud Surender said he is good enough to compete with the General category students and job seekers without the crutches of reservation.
“My brother, despite being from the SC category always competed in the General category. I am also good enough to do well in my life without seeking reservation,” Surender said.
The third member of the group of friends, Mukesh Kumar(name changed on request), is so bitter with the religion that he said the religion has given him and his community only violence and made them a second class citizen.
“Can an idol or a portray of a deity save us from the social, economic and physical violence unleashed on us by the upper caste? It clearly hasn’t till now. We can come out of this web of casteism in this country only if we are strong educationally, physically and economically,” Kumar said.
On one thing the Dalit youngsters are unanimously worried about is the idea of India as a “Hindu Rashtra”.
“We can’t let this country turn into a Hindu Rashtra, as that will be the end of the idea of a secular India. We will not let it happen. I am ready to even die for it. At least that will be the death for a cause,” Gautam concluded.