Thousands of Hindus, India's dominant community, attended a rally in New Delhi on Sunday (18 October).
GV Crowd at rally (2 shots)
SV Karan Singh, former Education Minister addressing rally
GV Hindu leaders listening
LV Singh continues speech
GV Crowds chanting
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Background: Thousands of Hindus, India's dominant community, attended a rally in New Delhi on Sunday (18 October). Concerned about the recent conversion of low-caste Harijans (untouchables) to Islam in Southern India the Hindus pledged to reform their religion. They heard their Leaders appeal for an end to untouchability which has kept the lower castes at the bottom of the Hindu social ladder.
SYNOPSIS: Hindus were reported to have been stunned by the news that an entire village of harijans in the southern state of Tamil Nadu had recently converted to Islam. And the Press Trust of India reported that 1,000 more harijans in Tamil Nadu's capital Madras on Sunday (18 October) had switched to Buddhism.
Former Education Minister Karan Singh told the rally that Hindu Society needed to uplift the harijans. Religious leader have alleged that foreign money was behind the conversion. Mr. Singh called for legislation to block the unaccounted flow of money from abroad for religious or political purposes.
A large number of women were in the crowd. After news of the conversions came through leading members of the Hindu Unity Centre went to the southern village of Meenakshipuram but managed to reconvert only 50 of the 1,300 new Moslems.
The movement is by no means a ground swell -- of 100-million harijans in India only an estimated 2,000 have converted to Islam so far this year. But the idea has caused considerable heart searching in the Hindu community.