Although Dehli authorities attempted to block the rally last November (2001) by withdrawing permission to use the planned venue and detaining Dalits travelling to the city, still they came.
Dalit leader Ram Raj declared nothing would stop this event. They had waited too long.
At the last minute, organisers relocated the rally to a compound named after the famous Dalit champion Dr. Babashaheb Ambedkar.
Ambedkar rejected Christianity, because he observed: ’Indian Christians, like all other Indians, are divided by race, by language, and by caste. Their religion has not been a sufficiently strong unifying force to make difference of language, race and caste mere distinctions. ’
Although a much smaller venue, it was highly significant. Last century, Ambedkar had led thousands of Dalits to a caste-less Buddhism, after experiencing rejection from the Christian church.
The 100,000 at the rally also planned to embrace Buddhism. As the crowds chanted “All humanity is one! All are equal” Ram led them into a dramatic ceremony as they converted to Buddhism.
They had rejected Christianity because sadly the caste system has infected the church in India since its inception. India’s first Protestant church contained a wall separating different castes.
It said to Untouchables who came to Christ that they were still Untouchable.
(taken and adapted from “India’s Biggest Mutiny” by Debbie Meroff in the Parish Magazine of All Saints, Faringdon with St. Mary’s, Little Coxwell March 2002)