Anuja Jaiswal


After Moradabad and Sambhal, more than 2,000 Dalits in Aligarh have threatened to embrace Islam, while accusing upper caste Thakurs of persecuting them. On Sunday , they immersed pictures of Hindu gods in a rivulet close to their village, as a symbolic farewell to Hindu religion.What sparked off the protest was a clash on Tuesday over construction of a Bhairav Baba temple near an abandoned well. Thakurs had objected to the construction.

Talking to TOI, Bunty Singh, a Dalit leader and resident of Keshopur Jhopri village, said they had decided to convert to Islam due to `discrimination and harassment’ by upper caste Hindus.

He said, during elections, upper castes treated them at par with `Hindus’ in order to get their votes but once the polls are over, they are back to treating Dalits shabbily .“They don’t consider us as part of Hindu community and use derogatory language against us. It is better for Dalits to convert,“ Bunty said.

He also alleged that ever since BJP came to power in the state, the upper castes had started flexing their muscles.“Atrocities against Dalits have been on the rise, with the active participation of rightwing Hindu organizations,“ Bunty said. Another Dalit, Jaiveer Singh, alleged that Thakurs had dug up drains from their washrooms towards the spot where Dalits were plan ning to install the idol to stall the construction. “When we objected, they started beating us,“ he said.

Defending the Thakurs, Devendra Chauhan, the village pradhan’s husband, claimed that they had done no wrong. He admitted that drains had been dug up by some residents but the matter was resolved after local administration’s intervention.He alleged that some local Dalit leaders were trying to create disharmony for their own vested interests.

Senior superintendent of police Rajesh Pandey said an adequate police force has been deputed and attempts were being made to defuse the tension.