New Delhi(dna): Nearly 50 members of the Dalit community of Haryana’s Bhagana village on Saturday converted to Islam during protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar in the National Capital. The demonstration, organised by Bhagana Kand Sangarsh Samiti (BKSS) was against the alleged persecution faced by the Dalit community at the hands of upper caste Jats.
At the heart of the conflict in Haryana is the struggle over land and it’s use and ownership by the poor Dalits which has been grabbed by the dominant castes.
Speaking to dna 45-year-old Ved Pal of the BKSS said that the movement to convert to Islam has been gaining pace ever since the brutal gang rape of four Dalit girls in Bhagana village in 2014.The girls were going out to fetch water in the evening and they saw a white colored car rushing towards them and grabbed them inside the car.
The girls, aged between 13 and 18 years, belong to the landless Dhanuk caste, and worked for upper caste landowners. Ved Pal said the khap panchayat had imposed a social boycott against the caste group, forcing 250 families to leave their homes and flee the village.
“The villagers had to leave our village facing total boycott. Barbers not cutting hair, kids being removed from schools and denying entry into temples is a common happening,” Pal said.
On Saturday afternoon, around 50 people, all of them men, gathered for demonstration and after brief speeches of community leaders converted to Islam. The protesters recited verses of Quran and offered prayers as well.
The development comes after almost a year of holding a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar. Previously, in a written statement, the victim families had said some of the victims have already converted to Islam in protest against the atrocities of upper caste Hindus.
Satish Kajla, was among the men who converted to Islam on Saturday. While speaking to reporters said that by becoming Muslims he hopes that other Islamic nations would raise voice against the persecution the Dalit community faces.