K P NARAYANA KUMAR
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2002 2:21:23 AM ]
HYDERABAD: The man who led about a lakh dalits to Ram Leela grounds in New Delhi November last year to convert to Buddhism, holds that the primary goal in uplifting the lives of Dalits, is to enhance their self-esteem. Udit Raj, formerly Ram Raj, says conversion helps the downtrodden classes overcome their own feeling of belonging to a lesser class.
"dalits in India suffer more of a mental slavery than an economic one," says the 41-year-old income tax additional commissioner, who is also the chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations.
Raj, who was here to participate in the national integration convention organised by the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind here on Sunday, Raj says they chose to convert to Buddhism as "it was an indigenous religion". "In fact, I would not call embracing Buddhism an act of conversion, we are also reviving a religion that is dying in India."
According to Udit Raj, the battle against casteism and feudalism should not run parallel to the one against communalism. "In fact both the minorities as well as the dalits are being exploited by the same group - the upper castes - who conspire and carry out their fascist agenda from the Sangh Parivar plank."
According to Raj, the communal riots in Gujarat are an example of how the public are being taken for a ride by the Sangh Parivar. "People think that in Gujarat the Hindus are fighting Muslims and vice-versa. But the truth is that the Dalit youths of that state are being instigated by the Sangh Parivar to carry out their hate campaigns. In fact, minorities as well as the dalits face a common enemy."
It is to drive home this message that his organisation, the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations has mooted the idea of a Save India Front. "This organisation that we intend to start would be led by leaders from both the groups, minorities as well as the Dalits," he says.
Asked to comment on the Sangh Parivar's charge that he was merely a stooge of the missionaries and that the mass conversions were in fact organised by United Christian Forum convener John Dayal, Udit Raj said the allegations were totally false.
"They (the Parivar) would go to any extent to stop our work and that is why they spread such blatant lies," he said.
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 2002 1:16:00 AM ]
LUCKNOW: President of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations Udit Raj said here on Friday that there was no Ram temple at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
He said that Ayodhya was a Buddhist centre and if at all there was any dispute, it was between Buddhists and Muslims and they could solve it among themselves. He asserted that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal had no locus standi in the matter.
Ridiculing VHP's claim that a Ram temple existed at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, he said that Tulsi Das who wrote Ram Charit Manas was 29 years old when Babar ruled the country and lived up to the age of about 100 years. "Had a temple ever existed, then Tulsi Das must have written about it".
Besides, he said, Archaeologist BB Lal wrote in 1976 that there was no temple at the site of the Babri Masjid. He said that several renowned historians, including RS Sharma, had also expressed similar views.
He pleaded that Maulvis, Ulemas and Hindu priests should be kept out of any negotiations and policy formulations. He demanded that rational and secular leaders and social activists should be brought in the fore front.
He also said that such matters should be exclusively dealt by judiciary and government.
Talking to media persons, he demanded immediate removal of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and invocation of POTA against Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists who were instrumental in engineering communal violence in Gujarat.
He said that the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations and Lord Buddha Club were going to form a non-political social front at the national level comprising political, social and cultural organisations.
Bahujan Samaj Party general secretary Arif Mohammed Khan resigned from the party on Wednesday in protest against his party's decision to tie-up with the Bharatiya Janata Party to form government in Uttar Pradesh.
"Since I stand committed to fight against communalism and the BSP deciding to align itself with BJP, I see no moral way out but to part company, so that I can devote myself totally to the cause of fight against divisive forces, Khan said in a letter to party president Kanshi Ram.
The BSP's decision to align with the BJP, which had practiced "perverse violence" in Gujarat, "has given many people, including me, a chilling shock", he said.
Ambedkarites of Tri-state (NY, NJ & CT) paid respect to Dr. Ambedkar and offered flowers to his bust in the Law library of Columbia University, between 10-11 am on April 14, 2002. Then we went upstairs to the eleventh floor and many of us took turns in paying tribute to Babasaheb. About fifty to sixty people showed up. Notable among those who graced the occasion with their presence were, Drs. E. Valentine Daniel, Professor of South Asian Studies, Columbia University, David Magier, Librarian, Law Library, Columbia University, Frances W. Pritchett, Professor of Modern Indic Languages, Owen M. Lynch, Charles F. Noyes Professor in the Department of Anthropology, New York University. Several people drove long distances from Connecticut and New Jersey.
The best outcome of this yearís ceremony was a step in the direction of making an Ambedkar Scholarship Fund at Columbia University a reality. Actually establishment of the fund was announced by Professor E. Valentine Daniel during the unveiling of Dr. Ambedkarís bust two years ago, with a contribution of a thousand dollars from his own pocket. However, since then the fund was not augmented until yesterday. About ten to fifteen people contributed about a hundred dollars each and many others made pledges of similar amounts.
A more elaborate celebration, with langar (lunch) and a lot more of paying tribute and some cultural programs will be held on April 28, 2002, from noon to 5:00 pm at Shree Guru Ravidas Temple, 61-01 Broadway, Woodside, Queens, New York, Everybody is cordially invited.