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Dalits threaten to convert to Islam over denial of haircut

MUMBAI: As the low-caste Hindus continue to suffer at the hands of the upper castes, the Dalits of Moradabad district in Uttar Pardesh- the most populous state of India- have threatened to convert to Islam if Hindus of other castes wouldn’t treat them with dignity, Indian media reports said.

After facing years of discrimination, the Valmiki community in Sambhal district has decided to rise in rebellion against the unfair rules set by the upper castes as it has announced intention to embrace Islam.

Recently, the issue of the community’s right to have their hair cut by barbers in the village exacerbated the matters after a Muslim barber refused to serve a client after learning about the customs of the community.

Over years since the independence, the Valmikis of Sambhal were not allowed by the upper caste people to have hair-cut in the village. They had to travel 15-20 kilometers to have their hair cut or get a shave. Of late, a Muslim barber agreed to cut hairs of a man from the community.

When the fact became public, he refused to tend to another man, which led to a brawl between the two and a police complaint. Subsequently, the reports about the barber’s going missing probably to avoid further trouble over the issue surfaced.

The reports said the upper caste Hindus might have a role in forcing the barber into fleeing the village, however, the police underplayed the issue, saying the incident was triggered by inter-personal tensions between the Muslim barbers and the Valmikis.

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