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Dalits in this TN village embrace Islam due to caste oppression

Dalits in this TN village embrace Islam due to caste oppression

When forced religious conversions make headlines for the dubious part the right wing politics play, about 40 members of eight families belonging to Dalit community in Tamil Nadu's Dombucheri village voluntary converted to Islam for a rightful reason.

The mass conversion, which had taken place in December last year, was the direct impact of the humiliation the community has been enduring for years by the dominant Hindu caste, according to a report published in The News Minute.

The oppression by the hands of upper cast Thevars in Dombuchery was the single reason that encouraged the Dalit community members to change their religious version, hoping for a decent life henceforth.

Mohammad Ismail, who often faced the Thevar atrocities, said that the upper caste member would attack the Dalit community members even for petty reasons. Thevars are concerned and jealous over the amenities the Dalit community members could afford to buy, says Ismail.

Many times, Thevars barge into the homes and vandalise the households and damages the vehicle, over the question "how could Dalits dress well, afford the vehicles?" Ismail says.

The TNN, quoting Tamil Puligal party's North Theni secretary Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who was earlier known as Vairamuthu, said that the Dalit community members have all the time been subjected to humiliation in the hands of upper caste. The discrimination the community had faced on the basis of caste was the real reason for the Dalits to shun their religion en-mass, Ali Jinnah said.

Even hair cut is not possible for Dalits in the village, for which they have to visit neighbouring villages, says Ali Jinnah. In the tea shop, Dalits could sit only on the floor, were not allowed to walk close to the Thevar habitation and wear slippers, said of the Dalit victim.

The BJP, RSS and Hindu Munnani party is drawing false narrative over the conversion. The right wing propaganda is that Muslims are offering Dalits money for conversion, which the right wing termed forced conversion, says Ali Jinnah.

The fact is that, no money would work when somebody's self-respect is attacked or humiliated, Ali Jinnah said, adding that the mass conversion in the village is voluntary and no force or money worked.

Ismail cites denial of community acceptance and self-respect as the major reasons for the eight Dalit families to convert to Islam, "When we were Hindus, the Thevar men addressed my grandfather and father by their names. They would not even respect my grandfather's age," he says. But Ismail insists that Islam has offered him and his community people equality, brotherhood, community acceptance, and most importantly self-respect.

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