Over 400 persons from Coimbatore have converted to Islam in recent weeks, Tamil Puligal, a Dalit outfit, has claimed.
According to M. Ilavenil, general secretary of the outfit, 420 residents, many of them members of Tamil Puligal, from Thondamuthur, Annur, Periyanaickenpalayam, Karumathampatti and Mettupalayam embraced Islam at mosques near their homes.
He claimed that the religious conversions were the fallout of the wall collapse in Nadur, Mettupalayam in early December 2019, in which 17 persons belonging to the Scheduled Caste died. None of the converts were from Nadur “because Hindu organisations and police are camping there after our announcement [about conversion] on January 24,” he further claimed.
The outfit’s chief Nagai Thiruvalluvan, arrested on charges of inciting violence in Mettupalayam, said his cadres had planned for the conversion when he was imprisoned. The primary reason was what he described as “discrimination against Dalits”, particularly by the officials.
“The State government’s failure to see the Nadur tragedy through the caste discrimination prism, recognise that casteism was at the core of the tragedy and displaying anti-Dalit bias were the reasons for the conversion,” he charged.
“Why did the police show hesitation in registering a case against the owner of the property whose compound fell on three houses killing the 17 Dalits; why did the police, right from the beginning, attempt to conceal the discrimination angle; why did the government not take any action against officials who had failed to act on Nadur residents’ petition regarding the compound wall and why did the police fail to act in a fair manner,” he asked.
“These questions have been weighing on the minds of his outfit’s members, Dalit activists and concerned Dalits. This has been a simmering anger that led to the decision to conversion to Islam, where they are guaranteed of equality,” he added.
This, however, did not include people from the affected area, Nadur, he said. “Consequent upon our announcement, members of Hindu outfits have camped in the area convincing the residents to not convert. They are supporting the building of a temple. And, the police too are in good numbers. Even I’ve not been able to go there.” Terming the Dalits of Nadur gullible, Mr. Thiruvalluvan said they were under the Hindu organisation’s influence.