news Monday, March 16, 2015 - 05:30

| The News Minute | March 14, 2014 | 12:17 p.m. IST |

Nearly all of us get through our lives without having to change our names. A report in the Hindu has the story of "Azad" who was "Shyam Singh" close to a month ago. 

According to the report, "Azad" was a Dalit Valmiki from the Moga village of Meerut who converted to Islam close to two weeks ago. 

Since November last year when his community was refused rights to perform puja at a prominent Valmiki temple, at Baghpat near Meerut, he had been campaigning for his rights. Reportedly, he has petitioned the District Magistrates of Baghpat and Meerut, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and even the PMO.

After his efforts came unfounded, Singh decided to convert to Islam and says the reason was two-fold. It’s not just because he wasn’t able to pray at the temple, but also because he cites “continuous threats and harassment” by law and order authorities.

He thus decided to convert. 

“What is the point in being a Hindu and having this sacred thread around my wrist if I can’t even enter a temple and perform puja,” he’s quoted as telling the Hindu. 

"Azad" now plans on migrating to Nepal to escape official harassment after the Meerut administration booked him last week for “disturbing peace and communal harmony”. These charges were based on his insistence to pray at the temple and on decision to convert. 

He is also quoted as saying that that the Valmikis have been historically treated that way. 

Read more at The Hindu: Denied temple access, Dalit converts to Islam

 

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