AAP targets BJP as 45 Dalits convert to Buddhism ‘sans permission’ in Gujarat

The conversation program is said to have been conducted without any permission as per the rule of the Gujarat Freedom Religion Act 2003.
Image for representational purposes only. (File Photo)
Image for representational purposes only. (File Photo)

AHMEDABAD: Days after the formation of the new BJP government in Gujarat, a controversy erupted following the conversion of 45 Scheduled Caste people to Buddhism in the Mahisagar district and Kheda and Panchmahal districts. The conversion allegedly took place on December 11 without permission of the district authorities and in the presence of a BJP leader’s husband. Both the BJP and AAP are targeting each over the conversion.

Interestingly, the VHP, which takes hardline on such issues, said that it doesn’t oppose conversion to Buddhism. On the other hand, the AAP said the conversion program was held in the presence of a BJP leader and the same 22 oaths were taken during this as happened during a similar conversion in Delhi when Delhi minister Rajendra Pal Gautam was present. The AAP asked why is not BJP making a hue and cry over Gujarat conversion as they did over the Delhi event.

AAP spokesperson Yogesh Jadvani said “During the Gujarat elections, BJP leaders made a plan to defame AAP leader Rajendra and to portray AAP as anti-Hindu and to portray itself as a Hindu party. BJP questioned the renunciation of Hindu gods and goddesses at the October 5 conversion event, by him and others. Now, that the election is over, the BJP leaders lost their Hinduism and are present in a similar conversion programme, this is BJP’s double-face Hindutva."

“During the Gujarat elections, BJP leaders made a plan to defame AAP leader Rajendra and to portray AAP as anti-Hindu and to portray itself as a Hindu party. BJP questioned the renunciation of Hindu gods and goddesses at the October 5 conversion event, by him and others. Now, that the election is over, the BJP leaders lost their Hinduism and are present in a similar conversion programme, this is BJP’s double-face Hindutva,” he added.

The conversation program is said to have been conducted without any permission as per the rule of the Gujarat Freedom Religion Act 2003. According to this law, any person who wants to quit the religion in which one is born and adopt another religion will have to take prior permission from the district magistrate or collector.

But Mahisagar District Collector Bhavin Pandya told this newspaper that “According to Indian law, no such permission is required for Buddhism or Jainism. Even though their priest informed us, I received applications seeking permission for the conversion, which are under process.”

Bhanu Chauhan, who too has adopted Buddhism along with 44 others, told the media “I along with 44 others converted to Buddhism on 11/12/2022. We 45 SC people converted to Buddhism because even though we are Hindus, we cannot live with self-respect in the Hindu society, due to which we have converted.”

On the allegation of violating the prescribed law on conversion, he said “All those, who wanted to quit the Hindu religion, had applied to the district collector a month ago, according to norms. The district collector has to approve the application within 30 days from the filing of the application, if not approved, it is deemed to be approved, and so we believe we are granted permission to adopt Buddhism.”

Prior nod needed
According to the Gujarat Freedom Religion Act 2003, any person who wants to quit the religion in which one is born and adopt another religion will have to take prior permission from the district magistrate or collector.

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