Sunday, October 28, 2001

60 dalit families dissuaded from conversion

KANCHEEPURAM: Sixty dalit families of Kootharambakkam, about 20 km from here, who threatened to convert to Islam, reportedly due to deprivation and social non-acceptance, deferred their decision after top-level officials held talks with them on Sunday and conceded some long-pending demands.

District revenue officer K Sankaran and DMK council member Asok Kumar were among those who held talks. Sankaran later told reporters that most of the villagers' demands had been conceded.

The villagers claimed that their intention to convert was not an empty threat. Leaders of the minority community were constantly in touch with them, they said.

Among their grievances are denial of fishing rights in a lake, despite having paid the bidding amount four years ago, not being allowed to participate in a local temple festival and denial of rights of passage to a pond, the only source of drinking water for the entire village.

Incidentally, a similar decision by the villagers in 1996 was put off after assurances by the administration.

Source: The Times of India, October 28, 2001