Ever since he floated the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations in 1997, Udit Raj has become the most visible Dalit face in the country. The Indian Revenue Service officer's formula of mobilising educated Dalits has been enormously successful. His embracing Buddhism last year and subsequent mass conversion drives have given a major political spin to his movement. He speaks to Davinder Kumar about why conversion is the only political tool the Dalits have to fight for their rights. Excerpts:
What's the idea behind conversions?
The basic idea is to liberate people from bondage. Hinduism theoretically justifies discrimination. Dalits are treated worse than animals, dogs, snakes. The Jhajjar lynching was rejoiced by the VHP workers the following day. What's the point in remaining with a religion where an animal is more important than a human being? Through conversions we are sending a message, particularly to outfits like the Bajrang Dal and the VHP, that if they continue the way they are they will be destroyed.