As many as 100 dalit families from Bhagana village of Hisar district claimed to have converted to Islam at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday.
Speaking to Hindustan Times over phone from New Delhi, Dalit leaders alleged that a feeling of alienation from Hindu religion, the failure of district administration to attend to their concerns and indifferent attitude of successive state governments left them with no option than to seek refuge in Islam.
"We don't feel like being part of Hinduism at all. The upper caste people (Jats) in our village have always treated us as if we are not human beings. So what is the point to stay in such religion?" Bhagana Kand Sangharesh Samiti president Virendrar Bagoriya said.
Bagoriya confirmed that Maulvi Abdul Hanif from nearby Qutab Minar mosque performed the conversion formalities.
"We read kalma and offered namaz," Bagoriya said.
Dalits from Bhagana have been protesting for the past more than three-and-a-half years to press their demand for allocation of promised plots as per a state government scheme and also against the atrocities they allegedly suffered at the hands of upper castes.
While the protesting Dalits are claiming that they should be given 100-yard plots each from panchayat land outside the village, the village panchayat has been refusing to do so.
They also alleged that all the accsued in the gangrape of four Dalit girls in the village had not been arrested. They alleged that the police and district administration tried to cover up every wrong done against Dalits in the village by the Jats.
"For years now, we are continuously getting harassed at the hand of 'dabangs' (the term they use for Jats) in our village. They are depriving us from our land and raping our girls. Instead of taking action against them, the district administration puts our elders behind bars by falsely implicating them under theft and other charges," another dalit leader Rampal Jhanda said.
He added, "We had given up hope of getting any justice from the previous Congress government, headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda. But with the change in guard, we thought that Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government would do justice to us. But Khattar is no better than his predecessor."