Alleging police excesses on members of a Dalit outfit, nearly 180 families from the community here announced that they have embraced Buddhism by immersing idols of Hindu gods and goddesses into a river. The families from Rupdi, Egri and Kapurpur villages yesterday also threatened that more Dalits would convert to Buddhism, if the police did not release the members of the community arrested during the recent caste-related violence in the district. They alleged that the police were intentionally targeting the community and Bheem Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad. However, DIG J K Shahi said, "Faith is a personal choice." On allegations by the families, he said, "Action will only be taken against the guilty, no innocent will face charges." Senior-SP Subhash Chand Dubey said, "I am yet to learn about the incident.
Religion is a personal choice." Caste-related violence broke out in many parts of the district this month with rioters allegedly torching more than 20 houses and vehicles, and leaving many injured, including policemen. The clashes reportedly took place after Dalits objected to the loud music during a procession to commemorate the birth anniversary of Rajput king Maharana Pratap in Shabbirpur on May 5.