On the last day of Dussehra, more than 200 Dalits converted to Buddhism in Gujarat, saying the discrimination they faved since the Una incident led to their decision, the Indian Express reported.
The Buddhist Society of India had organised a programme for conversion in Kalol, Gandhinagar, where more than 70 people have reportedly converted, while the Gujarat Buddhist Academy organised a similar programme in Danilimda, Ahmedabad. Another event was organised at a private Bauddh Vihar in Wadhwan.
Drawing from Ambedkar’s influence, the converts told the Indian Express that they made their decision based on protracted discrimination, superstition and inequality, but were especially moved by the attacks by gau rakshaks in Una earlier this year.
Caste-based discrimination has also led to Dalits being denied residency in certain areas, as Dipanshu Parikh’s told the Indian Express: “We were planning to sell our house in Chandkheda area and buy one in Jivraj Park. We inquired about a house, but the builder told us that his scheme was not for scheduled castes. If we are not considered as one of them, why should we follow that religion?” he said.
Ramesh Banker, one of the organisers, told the Times of India before the ceremony, “This is 125th year of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s birth. Exactly 60 years ago, he led people to the path of the Buddha on the day of Ashoka vijaya dashmi.”