India, Nov. 28--Thousands of low-caste Hindus have faced opposition from police and right-wing Hindu groups to convert to Buddhism in an apparent revolt against India's caste system. Some Hindu groups have alleged that the Nov. 4 conversion event in New Delhi was a "Christian conspiracy" to belittle Hinduism, while Catholic church.groups have defended people's right to gather and choose their own religion.

The National Council of Churches in India and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India supported the gathering, but they denied any involvement in organizing it. Low-caste leaders claim that about 30,000 people attended the event on an open ground in the capital. Media estimates ranged from 3,000 to 50,000.

Amid hymns chanted in Pali and recitation of Buddhist verses, thousands of dalit, or low-caste men, women and children renounced Hinduism and declared their liberation from generations of caste bondage. The organizers had changed the site to a smaller venue after police withdrew permission for the gathering and Hindu groups opposed it. The original site chosen could have accommodated a million people.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the world Hindu council, and other militant Hindu groups demanded a ban on the event, alleging that Christians wanted to prove through it that something is "seriously wrong with Hinduism."

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