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Dalit converts, reconverted within a day

Lucknow: Pawan Kumar's voluntary transition to Mohammad Alam lasted just one day.

On Tuesday, some Hindutva activists forced the young jobless Dalit to reconvert, a day after he had embraced Islam in the hope of what he called "honour and a decent life".

The 25-year-old resident of Shamli, west Uttar Pradesh, doesn't want to go to police. He fears he might be sent to jail.

A senior police officer said he wasn't aware of any such incident of forced reconversion in the district.

"We don't have any such report but the police will take action if a complaint is received," Shamli additional superintendent of police Shlok Kumar said.

The unemployed Dalit, a resident of Vishwakarma Mohalla under Kotwali police station, had converted on Monday in the presence of three clerics and was rechristened Mohammad Alam.

On Tuesday evening, some activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal visited his home.

They alleged that the clerics had lured him into marriage with a beautiful Muslim girl along with the promise of a job and asked him to become a Hindu again after a purification ritual.

"Some people had taken him to a religious place and converted him to Islam illegally," said Vivek Premi, Bajrang Dal head of the Meerut zone. "We decided not to let this happen at any cost and convinced Kumar to return to his original religion."

Vivek had been camping in Shamli with some Hindutva activists to ensure that the youth was brought back to Hinduism.

"We purified him with Gangajal (holy water of the Ganga). He took oath in the name of his grandmother to stay in Hinduism all his life," he added.

The man at the centre of the controversy, however, insisted it was his personal decision to adopt Islam.

"People look down at us because we are Dalit. We don't have enough money to lead a decent life. The upper castes don't employ us for any respectable work. I adopted Islam because I would get honour and a decent life as a Muslim.

"But the members of the Hindutva groups forced me to return to Hinduism," the young man, who has cleared Class XII but didn't join college, told reporters on Wednesday.

"Before that, some people barged into my house and attacked me. I ran away from there. But they chased and attacked me again. With little option left, I decided to agree to their order to return to Hinduism."

Asked if he had approached the police, he said: "I don't want to go to the police. A large number of Dalits, along with our leader Chandrashekhar, have been put in jail."

Chandrashekhar Azad, a Dalit rights activist from Saharanpur, also in Uttar Pradesh, was arrested in June 2017 for spearheading a movement against upper caste atrocities on members of his community.

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