Bhopal- October is a month of profound historical significance for Dalits, primarily attributed to a momentous event that transpired on October 14, 1956. It was on this historic day that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a towering figure and unwavering advocate for social justice and Dalit rights, made the monumental decision to embrace Buddhism. This transformative event unfolded at Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of countless individuals and reshaping the socio-political landscape of India.
Since that historic day in 1956, October continues to be a month when people, particularly members of Dalit communities, commemorate Dr. Ambedkar's transformative decision by embracing Buddhism.
In a parallel narrative, Nisha Bangre, a staunch follower of Buddhism, found herself in a situation that brought attention to her unwavering commitment to her faith. On a subsequent note, Nisha Bangre encountered a recent chapter in her life, one that led to her temporary confinement in a central jail. This occurrence unfolded during her Padyatra, a form of peaceful protest, as she ventured towards the Chief Minister's residence in Bhopal.
Her mission was clear: to press the government to acknowledge her resignation from her role as Deputy Collector. Nisha is a poll aspirant and desires to contest polls from Betul's Aamla constituency in the upcoming assembly elections. She is on child care leave since she tendered her resignation to the government on June 22, this year. The event underscores both the historical significance of October in Dalit history and the contemporary struggles individuals like Nisha Bangre face as they navigate the complexities of social and bureaucratic challenges.
In a dramatic turn of events, the relentless pursuit by Dalit Deputy Collector Nisha Bangre to have her resignation from the post accepted by the government took a distressing twist as she was sent to jail on Monday. She was released on bail late Tuesday evening. Nisha Bangre, who had been demanding the acknowledgment of her resignation, had embarked on a high-stakes protest at the Board Office Junction in Bhopal, only to face a stern response from the authorities.
Bangre's ordeal began when she sought permission to go on a hunger strike in front of the Chief Minister's residence, pressing her demand for the acceptance of her resignation. On Monday morning, she paid her respects at the statue of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. However, as she proceeded from the Board Office Choraha, a substantial police presence halted her progress and attempted to forcefully make her enter a police vehicle.
Undeterred, Nisha Bangre, determined to reach the Chief Minister's residence, requested permission from the police administration to continue her journey. The officers on-site, instead, insisted she sit in a police van. Resisting this directive, Nisha Bangre and her supporters staged a sit-in on the road, leading to a confrontation with the police. In the chaos, a framed photograph of Dr. Ambedkar, held by Nisha Bangre, was damaged, and her clothing torn.
The protest resulted in the detention of approximately a dozen supporters, who were subsequently released later in the evening. However, Nisha Bangre herself faced legal repercussions. The police registered a case against her under sections 151, 107, and 116 of the Indian Penal Code. Despite being presented at the Police Commissioner's office, the bail process remained unfulfilled, leading to her transfer to Bhopal's Central Jail located at Lalghati.
Speaking on the situation, Nisha Bangre's husband, Suresh Aggarwal, expressed concern about the deliberate delay in presenting her to the police administration, leading to the failure to secure bail. He shared that their three-year-old son had been inconsolable, missing his mother, and crying incessantly for the past 24 hours. Suresh questioned why the administration was persistently causing distress to his wife when all she desired was the acceptance of her resignation.
Bangre's decision to resign was prompted by her alleged denial of leave to attend two significant events—an international conference and the inaugural function of her new house. The situation has raised questions about her fundamental rights, religious beliefs, and the acceptance of her resignation by the General Administration Department (GAD).
Nisha Bangre had applied for leave to participate in the International All Religion Peace Conference and the World Peace Prize Award Ceremony scheduled for June 25th in Amla, Betul. These events held special significance for her as a Buddhist practitioner. Additionally, she had an inaugural function planned for her new house on the same day.
On June 15, SK Sendre, Under Secretary (Personnel) of the department, denied her request for leave, citing MP Civil Services Conduct Rules. In response, Nisha Bangre penned her resignation letter on June 19, where she expressed deep disappointment at being denied permission. She emphasized that her religious sentiments were profoundly hurt by not being allowed to participate in the program, which involved the ashes of 'Tathagata Buddha,' considered an ambassador of world peace.
The event, organized by the NGO Gagan Malik Foundation, aimed to bring representatives of all religions from about 11 countries and feature the ashes of Tathagat Buddha brought from Sri Lanka.
Nisha Bangre's resignation letter conveyed her unwillingness to continue as Deputy Collector, as she felt it compromised her fundamental rights, religious beliefs, and constitutional values. However, as of now, the General Administration Department (GAD) has yet to accept her resignation.
Nisha Bangre had suggested that her denial of leave and subsequent resignation might be politically motivated. The events she wished to attend were of international importance and had a religious significance that was deeply personal to her as a Buddhist.
Dhamma Diksha Divas or the Dhammachakra Pravartan Din, also known as Dhamma Wheel's Promulgation Day, is a special Buddhist festival in India. It's a day when people celebrate the momentous event of B.R. Ambedkar, along with thousands of his followers, embracing Buddhism on October 14, 1956, at Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and his wife took the oath of Three Jewels and Five Precepts from the Burmese monk Mahasthavir Chandramani from Kushinagar. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar then gave the oath of Three Jewels, Five Precepts, and 22 Vows to his thousands of followers. In this way, Nagpur became the birthplace of Neo Buddhist movement.
Dr. Ambedkar's decision to publicly convert to Buddhism on this day came more than two decades after he had declared his intent to do so. It was a moment of great symbolic importance, representing a rejection of the oppressive caste system and the assertion of the rights and dignity of Dalits. Over 365,000 of his followers joined him in this transformation, embracing Buddhism as their new faith at the same ceremony. This mass conversion event was a watershed moment in the history of social and religious movements in India.
Moreover, this historic event transcended caste boundaries, as many upper-caste Hindus were also inspired to accept Buddhism. The message of equality and social justice propagated by Dr. Ambedkar resonated with people from diverse backgrounds, leading them to embrace this faith.
Following the Deekshabhoomi ceremony in Nagpur, Dr. Ambedkar continued his mission to spread Buddhism. On October 16, 1956, he conducted another mass conversion event in Chandrapur, also known as Deekshabhoomi, where more than 300,000 of his followers adopted Buddhism.
The influence of Dr. Ambedkar's conversion extended beyond India's borders. Inspired by his example, 5,000 Tamils in Myanmar (then known as Burma) embraced Buddhism in Rangoon on October 28, 1956, under the leadership of Chan Htoon, the justice of the Supreme Court of the Union of Burma. This international recognition of Dr. Ambedkar's message highlighted the global significance of his struggle for social justice.