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TN conversion affair is a damp squid

TN conversion affair is a damp squid

Author: Swati Das
Publication: The Times of India
Date: December 7, 2002

Challenging the Tamil Nadu government legislation banning forceful conversion, Dalit groups had proposed a mass conversion of 3,000 people on Friday morning. But the much-publicised programme turned out to be a damp squib as only 40 changed their religion to Buddhism and Christianity.

Even as TN governor PS. Rama Mohan Rao gave his assent to the piece of legislation earlier this week, Dalit Panthers of India leader R. Thirumavallavan (DPI) announced the mass conversion in Selaiyur in the southern suburbs of Chennai. He had quoted 2,000 persons converting to Buddhism and 1,000 to Christianity on the 46th death anniversary of Dr B. R. Ambedkar (December 6). The event was mooted by Dalit intellectual Kancha Illiah.

A wedding invitation was printed which claimed that Dalits from all over TN would "enmasse embrace non-casteist faiths". A pandal was erected in front of the Pentecostal Church on Velacheri Main Road at Kamarajapuram in Selaiyr (East Thambaram). But on Friday morning when the people arrived there, there were only 40 instead of 3,000 who wanted to get converted.

Though the function was to begin at 10 a.m., it was delayed by almost two hours, as Thirumavallavan had not arrived. After 11.30, the function began with Illiah and All-India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations chairman Udit Raj addressing the gathering.

Four persons, two women and two men, were symbolically converted to Christianity by a bishop from Rajastan who washed their feet on the dais. The, rest, who converted to Buddhism, repeated a pledge read out by a Buddhist Sena leader.

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