50 UP Dalit families threaten to convert to Islam, say attacks on them have increased under Yogi rule

A local Dalit leader also alleged upper castes had forced the closure of about half a dozen Dalit-owned barber shops. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India May 15, 2017, 05.13 AM (IST)

Some 50 Dalit families in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh have threatened to convert to Islam, saying that attacks on Dalits have increased since the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government came to power in the state, the DNA newspaper reported Monday.  

On Saturday evening, the families reportedly immersed idols of Hindu deities in a river and started greeting each other with the salutation 'Salaamwalekum' instead of the usual 'Ram Ram’.

"This symbolises us giving up the Hindu religion, which we were practising thus far," Lalla Babu, a local Dalit leader, told DNA. 

Babu told DNA that the Dalits were promised "Ram rajya" by the Yogi government, but are instead being subjected to the same inhumane treatment by the upper castes as was the case earlier.

In recent incidents, Dalit women, children and senior citizens were thrashed in Saharanpur and the homes of 25 Dalit families set ablaze by upper-caste Thakurs.  

While speaking to DNA, the Dalit leader also alleged that upper castes had forced the closure of about half a dozen Dalit-owned barber shops in Bahjoi village. 

BJP general secretary Vijaya Bahadur Pathak told DNA the issue was being blown out of proportion.

"The Yogi government is working for all without any prejudice. The welfare of Dalits and the poor is uppermost in our agenda," Pathak told DNA.