Una, Gujarat– Four Dalit youngsters, who were flogged by self-styled cow vigilantes for skinning a dead cow in Gujarat in 2016, on Sunday embraced Buddhism along with their families and about 300 others, to protest against discrimination and atrocities on them.
Balubhai Sarvaiya, whose three sons and their cousin were flogged and paraded naked for over 15 km, converted to Buddhism along with his family and many others at their village Mota Samadhiyala in Una taluka of Gir-Somnath district.
Local Buddhist monks came to oversee the ceremony, while people from all over Gujarat and even from Maharashtra were present.
Balubhai told IANS: “Our decision to embrace Buddhism was out of frustration from a community and society that does not have concern for our human values. This is also a demonstration of protest against the state government which failed us.”
He said the state government was yet to give them land or jobs which was promised by then Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who visited them after the flogging incident. The Sarvaiyas are also angry that despite assurances of exemplary action against the cow vigilantes, the accused persons were out on bail.
Sarvaiya’s son Rameshbhai, who is in his early 20s, said: “We know that abandoning Hinduism would not change anything in our life, but we will no longer pray before the same Gods whose followers thrash us and treat us like animals.”
The family decided to convert to Buddhism on Wednesday. Sarvaiya had lodged a police complaint that he and his family was threatened for wanting to renounce Hinduism. The family has been given police protection.
The Sarvaiyas, who had been engaged in skinning of dead animals, brought a dead cow on July 11, 2016, in Mota Samadhiyala when half a dozen persons in an SUV approached them and accused them of cow slaughter. The victims tried convincing them that they had brought the carcass for skinning, but to no avail.
The four were stripped naked and beaten up with iron pipes before being tied behind the SUV and driven around publicly, and then dumped in front of a police station in full public view. The perpetrators also filmed this and uploaded it on the social media, creating a nationwide furore.