300 Dalits convert to Buddhism in Gujarat

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Over 200 people from the Dalit community from Gujarat converted to Buddhism in three separate events organised by Buddhist organisations here on the occasion of Vijaya Dashmi, organisers said today.

Another 90 from the state converted to Buddhism in Nagpur, taking the total to over 300 Dalits.

According to organisers, though conversions are carried out every year on Vijaya Dashmi, this year the numbers were high on account of the Una Dalit flogging incident.

“As many as 140 Dalits converted to Buddhism at an event organised by Gujarat Buddhist Society in Dani Limda locality of Ahmedabad yesterday to mark Vijaya Dashmi,” Ramesh Banker, a member of Gujarat Buddhist Academy, which organised the event here, said.

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Sixty-five people from the community converted to Buddhism at a separate event organised in Kalol in Gandhinagar district, while 11 more converted in Wadhwan in Surendranagar district.

Some of them also embraced Buddhism at an event organised at Kalol. A total of 65 persons converted at this event, P G Jyotikar of Buddhist Society of India, said.

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He said while conversion is an ongoing event, the Dalits prefer to embrace Buddhism on Vijaya Dashmi because on this day in 1956, Babasaheb B R Ambedkar took to Buddhism alongwith other Dalits at an event in Nagpur.

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“Most Dalits prefer this day for conversion, as Ambedkar himself converted to Buddhism on this day in 1956. The reaction to the Una Dalit atrocity incident was evident in response we received from the converts,” Jyotikar said.

While a total 216 Dalits converted to Buddhism at events organised in the state, around 90 more from the state converted to the religion at Nagpur, where Dalits from all over the country gather for conversion, Banker claimed.

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“With this, more than 300 Dalits in the state converted to Buddhism,” he claimed.

Collectors of Surendranagar and Ahmedabad, where the event took place, said they have no knowledge of the events.

“It has not come to our notice,” Surendranagar Collector Uday Agrawal said.

Those who embraced the new religion said they converted to Buddhism because it is a “more humane religion” than Hinduism. .

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