More than 800 Valmikis had threatened to “convert to Islam” if the Mulayam Singh government went ahead with its planned demolition of their basti, where houses had been marked with red paint. They chose Ambedkar’s 124th birth anniversary to go ahead with the threat.
The Valmikis believe that their houses were being demolished to make way for a shopping mall.
Even though there was no cleric to convert them, the Valmikis wore skull caps and started calling themselves Muslims.
Bhim Anarya, a resident, said, “A municipal employee had come to our locality a few days ago and asked us to vacate our houses. When we expressed our inability to do so, he advised us to convert to Islam in order to save our houses from being brought down.”