Return to Hindu fold or face social boycott: villagers
The residents of Bhagana village on Sunday directed Dalits, who converted to Islam on Saturday at Jantar Mantar, to revert back to Hinduism or face social boycott in the village.
The decision was taken at a panchayat meeting called by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal. The meeting was attended around 40 Jats, 15 Dalits, 7 Brahmins and a few Muslims too. However, at the meeting, leaders from VHP and Bajrang Dal were in full control.
"It is not the matter of caste, it is the matter of Hindu religion. Therefore, we should tell them that if they want to live in village they have to return to their original religion - Hinduism," district president of the Bhajrang Dal, Kapil Vasant, said while addressing the panchayat.
Seconding Vasant's views, the panchayat members issued a diktat that the village people who converted to Islam needed to return to Hinduism or face social boycott.
"It was mutually decided that we will try to persuade them return to Hinduism. If they don't agree, the entire village will boycott them," former Dalit sarpanch Kitab Singh said.
However, the current sarpanch Rakesh Panghal was missing from the scene.
"We have talked to the families of some of the converts, who assured us that they will get them back in Hinduism," Vasant told HT.
Later, even the leaders of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha also made their entry into the village and interacted with the villagers on the matter.
Mixed reactions from villagers
A Jat farmer Ishwar Lal said he didn't have any issue with Dalit converting to Islam.
"Why should it matter to me what they want to do with their lives. We are farmers and are busy with our work. Personally, I won't boycott anyone. If this is what panchayat has decided then let it be," he said.
Manohar Lal runs the lone grocery store at the controversial square of the village. He was of the view that Dalits were stretching the matter too far unnecessarily and what they were saying at the Jantar Mantar was far from reality.
"Jats are around for a long time and Dalits keep on provoking them," Lal said.
The Muslim community members who also attended the meeting, said they, too, didn't support the conversions.
"There is some problem with the Dalits too. They are playing politics over the issue. The youngsters are not listening to their elders. Ours is the third generation living here. We never had any problem," said Lateef, a driver by profession.