Around 1,500 members of the Dalit community in Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Nagar locality of Amroha district are allegedly living under a threat of “conversion”.
Sources say shops in the neighbourhood are slowly changing their address to “Islam Nagar” from the pre–Independence name of “Gautam Nagar”. Most residents of the area make a living by doing odd jobs.
Gautam Nagar also has a market that consists of nearly 50 shops. But tensions have risen in the area owing to developments in the past two weeks over the name change.
About 20-25 shops now have a new address: Islam Nagar Naugawaan Sadat. To add to the concerns, “Gautam Nagar” has been painted over with black on the address boards of some shops, giving a clear indication that the details will be changed.
“We even gave a written complaint to the police a few days ago but no action has been taken so far,” said Murari, a native of Gautam Nagar.
“I have been living here since birth and even the address verification certificates, Aadhaar cards and voter cards have Gautam Nagar mentioned as domicile address. We are left with no other option but to migrate to another locality or convert,” says 70-year-old Pitam.
The people of the neighbourhood also tried to hold talks with the shop owners but that did not yield any results. “Humne unse baat karne ki koshish ki, samjhana chaha… lekin wo ugra ho gaye (We tried to talk to them and tried to convince them that this is wrong. But they got angry,” said local resident Roopchand. Cops say they are investigating the matter.
“We have received a complaint on January 29 and are probing the matter. Further action or an FIR will only be registered after investigations are over,” the area’s station house officer said.
“The name of any locality cannot be changed like this. An official proposal should be given to the authority concerned after which necessary amendments are made. We will probe the matter,” said additional superintendent of police Brijesh Singh.
“The matter is not in my knowledge and if anything like this is happening, it is against law. Strict action will be taken against the people involved in it,” said Chetan Chauhan, area MLA and Uttar Pradesh’s sports minister.