Following in the footsteps of the Constitution’s author Dr BR Ambedkar, survivors of the infamous bashing of a Dalit family by cow vigilantes in Una would embrace Buddhism to escape caste oppression under Hinduism.
Four members of a Dalit family in Una of Gir Somnath district were beaten mercilessly and paraded half-naked through the streets by self-styled cow vigilantes in July 2016 when they were spotted skinning a cow which died due to natural causes.
The subsequent protests had snowballed into a Dalit uprising not only in Gujarat, but had spread also to several parts of the country.
The Sarvaiya family has now decided to renounce Hinduism and convert to Buddhism on the coming Buddha Purnima on 29 May.
Though the BJP government in Gujarat had enacted a law to prevent religious conversions a few years back, it is soft on conversions to Buddhism and Jainism as the ruling elite here consider these faiths as extensions of broad ‘Hindu way of life’. Conversions to Islam and Christianity are, however, viewed as much more sinister crimes under the same Freedom of Religion Act legislated by the Gujarat Legislative Assembly about a decade back.
The Una survivors would also take initiatives to convince other victims of caste atrocities to renounce Hinduism and embrace Buddhism.
The other families to be inspired to embrace Buddhism include father of one of the three victims of police firing on Dalits at Thangadh in 2012, the inquiry commission report of which has still not been made public.
The Dalit family of Una have chosen Buddha Purnima to convert themselves to the new faith as the day marks not only the birth of Gautam Buddha but also his enlightenment (Nirvana).