Wednesday, February 8, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Dalits to embrace Buddhism

Dalits to embrace Buddhism
Lawrence Milton, TNN | Feb 9, 2012, 04.44AM IST
MYSORE/CHAMARAJANAGAR: Dalit families in Kalanahundi Village, 5km from
Chamarajanagar town, have threatened to convert to Buddhism, to
protest against the alleged discrimination by upper-caste Hindus.

The District Federation of Dalit organizations have planned a mass
'Buddha dhamma deeksha' programme in the village in the last week of
February, when hundreds of dalits in the district, including
Kalanahundi dalits, are anticipated to embrace Buddhism.

However, additional SP K H Chandrashekar said that the jathra that was
held recently belonged to a particular community and dalits had no
role in it.

They said increased discrimination and practice of untouchability in
their village has forced all dalits to take a firm decision in this
regard. "When we are not allowed into a village temple, and annual
festival procession are restricted from entering our streets, even our
offerings to the presiding deity Maramma are rejected by the upper
caste Hindus, then why should we follow Hinduism?" asked Mahesh, 45, a

"We are treated badly. But our complaints against continued
discrimination seem to have fallen on deaf ears of the authorities
concerned. Pained by the unpleasant developments that has been
occurring over a decade, about four score dalit families have decided
to embrace Buddhism," a villager said.

"We have held a first round of meeting and dalits in the village have
agreed to the conversion," he claimed, adding that they were kept away
from the annual Maramma jathra celebrations held in the village

Federation district convener C M Krishnamurthy told TOI that around
1,000 dalits are expected to convert to Buddhism in the conversion
programme scheduled at Kalanahundi village this month-end. This is the
first such instance, wherein, entire dalit families in a village are
embracing Buddhism, the convener claimed.

Additional deputy commissioner H T Chandrashekar on Tuesday promised
the protesting Kalanahundi dalits to conduct a fair investigation into
the alleged incident at the village and take action against the

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