Pune: Angered by the treatment meted out to them during and after the Koregaon-Bhima attacks, the Sakat family, one of the victims of the violence by upper caste villagers, has declared that they will convert to Buddhism in October. The Sakat family has seen attacks, boycott and even the alleged murder of 19-year-old Pooja Sakat.
Violence had flared up in Koregaon-Bhima and nearby villages on January 1 as lakhs of visitors from across the State had gathered to commemorate the military victory of the Mahar Regiment over the Peshwa army. Upper caste and right wing groups are said to have organised stone pelting and vehicle burning attacks on the visitors, an enquiry for which has been constituted recently.
“We were Hindu and have followed our traditions faithfully. The villagers too were Hindu by religion. Then why did we face prosecution and discrimination from the same religion,” Suresh Sakat, Pooja’s brother, asked.
“When we needed help and were suffering, no Hindu brethren came to our aid,” he added.
Sakat said that he has already forsaken Hinduism. “I used to have a pigtail as per Matang tradition. I went with my family to Chaityabhumi in Mumbai and pledged in Babasaheb Ambedkar’s memory that I will leave this religion,” Sakat said, adding, “I will cut off my pigtail and throw it in the sea. Me and my family will convert to Buddhism in October on Dhammachakra Pravartan Din, the day Babasaheb converted to Buddhism with thousands of followers.”
Sakat was speaking at a press conference organised by Republican Yuva Morcha to announce a protest at the Kasba Peth residence of District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat. “We have been fooled by the government time and again. We want action and arrest of the perpetrators of Koregaon-Bhima,” said Rahul Dambale of the Yuva Morcha, adding, “We want the Guardian Minister to say at least a word about what has happened in his district. He should resign as a moral responsibility.”
11 complaints submitted to Koregaon-Bhima Enquiry Commission
Amidst reports that almost no one has come forward to submit complaints, statements and evidence before the State government constituted Bhima-Koregaon Enquiry Commission, Yuva Morcha representatives said they have taken up complaints. “We have submitted 11 official complaints to the Commission. We are waiting for the extension for the submission date, but we have also started making people aware about the Commission,” Rahul Dambale said.