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"Conversion is the pet project of the Hindutva forces. We never indulge in conversion"

TN conversion row Peace talks between Dalits and caste-hindus over rituals failImage for Representation / Nishanth Krish
news Sunday, July 31, 2016 - 12:00

Following the discrimination against Dalits by caste-Hindus in a tiny village in Nagapattinam district, where two communities are locked in a battle over conduct of rituals in Badra Kaliamman temple, Dalits dropped a bombshell threatening to embrace Islam if discrimination against them continued.

A worried district administration intervened and persuaded them to drop their plans of conversion and arranged peace talks between the two communities. But the talks have failed.

Since differences persisted and Dalits have decided to move the Madras high court following failure of talks mediated by Handlooms Minister O.S. Manian, the district administration on Saturday temporarily put off the five-day festival.

The Dalits of Pazhangkallimedu demanded they be allowed to conduct rituals inside the temple like members of any other community during the  festival, but it was rejected by caste Hindus.

Dalits also demanded that they should be allowed to conduct rituals for one full day during the temple festival. Miffed at their demands not being met, they threatened to convert to Islam. Tamil Nadu Tauheed Jamat and Hindu Makkal Katchi have launched barbs against each other. While the Jamaat says they never forced anyone to convert, Hindu Munnani leaders said only at the instigation of the Jamaat, Dalits issued the threat.

“Conversion is the pet project of the Hindutva forces. We never indulge in conversion. Even when villagers wanted to convert to Islam, we told them it is not possible just like that. We first gave them Quran and asked them to read it before they take any decision. The allegations against us are baseless,” Mohammad Yusuf of the Jamaat told Deccan Chronicle.

However, Arjun Sampath of Hindu Munnani blames VCK of instigating Dalits and asking them to make fresh demands about the temple festival. “The VCK is making it a prestige and ego issue without any logic. For long, people of the village are doing the rituals and now Dalits want the rituals to be conducted among caste lines. But we are not preventing anyone from entering the temple,” he said.

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