Hindus must seek permission to convert, says Gujarat govt circular

The circular was signed by Deputy Secretary (Home) Vijay Badheka

New Update
Hindus must seek permission to convert, says Gujarat govt circular

The Gujarat government has issued a circular clarifying that Buddhism has to be considered a separate religion and any conversions from Hinduism to Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism would require prior approval of the district magistrate concerned under the provisions of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003.

The circular was issued by the Home department on April 8 after it came to the notice of the government that applications seeking conversion to Buddhism were not being dealt with as per rules. 

The circular was signed by Deputy Secretary (Home) Vijay Badheka.

In Gujarat, every year, mostly Dalits have been seen converting en masse to Buddhism at events held on Dussehra and other festivals.

It further instructed the district magistrates to decide application of religious conversion after detailed study of the legal provisions and by following instructions issued by the state government time to time.

A senior Home department official said the circular has been issued as a clarification on the subject.

In Gujarat, the trend of converting to Buddhism is prevalent among Dalits.

The Gujarat Buddhist Academy (GBA) is one of the prominent organisations that holds such conversion events regularly in the state.

Banker said that in 2023, at least 2,000 people, mainly Dalits, converted to Buddhism. 

As per Census 2011 data, there are 30,483 Buddhists in Gujarat  0.05 per cent of the state’s population. 

Buddhists in Gujarat have argued that the actual number of Buddhists is not reflected because Census officials record them as Hindus.

On October 25, last year, around 400 people converted to Buddhism in Ahmedabad. Similarly, in October 2022, around 900 people converted to Buddhism in Gir Somnath. 

The prominent Dalits from Gujarat who embraced Buddhism in the recent past include the victims of 2016 Una public flogging – Vashram Sarvaiya, Ramesh Sarvaiya and their family members.

Latest Stories