Venkaiah Naidu Decries Violence Against Dalits, Says Conversion Won’t Help

NEW DELHI: Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday deplored violence against Dalits in the name of cow protection but maintained that their getting converted would not end prejudices, days after his ministerial colleague Ramdas Athawale suggested that members of the community should embrace Buddhism.

Asserting that Hinduism does not sanction discrimination, the minister said, “No person who discriminates against another human being could ever be called a Hindu.”

“If you respect cow it is great, but other human beings also have the right to live, right to do their work. If you want to respect a cow respect it. Nothing wrong in this, but that doesn’t mean that you can kill anybody on that pretext. That is totally wrong,” Mr Naidu told reporters on the sidelines of an event to felicitate IAS topper Tina Dabi, a Dalit.

His remarks came in the backdrop of BJP facing flak over incidents of violence against Dalits by cow vigilantes in various states including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

He said some people have suggested that conversion can end this problem, but that has not happened. There have been cases where people came back saying they witnessed the same situation in other religions also, he said.

“See, some converted, then they came back and said we are witnessing same situation there. Now they are complaining that they are not getting reservation as Constitution does not provide reservation on the basis of religion,” Mr Naidu said.

Mr Naidu’s comments came days after the statement by Athawale, a Dalit leader from Maharashtra, that people from the community should embrace Buddhism to avoid pressure or violence against them.

There have also been reports of some Dalit families, who have been protesting after being denied permission to attend a temple festival in Tamil Nadu’s Karur region last week, threatening to convert to Islam.

Emphasising on equality, Mr Naidu said, “Bharat Mata ki jai means glory of all those who live in this country”, adding that those who live in this country are Indians and they are equal in all aspects.