Gujarat govt junks atheist’s plea to be known as ‘RV155677820’

AHMEDABAD: The gazette office at Rajkot has rejected, without citing a reason, the application of Rajveer , an Ahmedabad-based autorickshaw driver, to change his name to ‘RV155677820’.
Upadhyay (34) has been trying to change his name and drop his religion since 2015. As he wanted to write ‘atheist’ in the column for religion, he decided to also change his name and surname as he believed they pointed to his caste. He wanted to be known as ‘RV155677820’ — short for Rajveer and his enrolment number on his school-leaving certificate.

Last May, he filed an application at the Ahmedabad district collectorate to change his name. He was directed to approach the government printing and stationery department at the gazette office in Rajkot, where he applied last year.

In response, he was informed, “New name according to your desire cannot be published”.

Upadhyay now wants to move the high court, challenging the Freedom of Religion Act which, according to him, doesn’t have a provision to embrace atheism.

Upadhyay belongs to the Guru-Brahmin caste, a scheduled caste (SC), told TOI, “I am a rationalist and secular person and this is a secular country. The law of the country should give me the right to be known as an atheist. If I write my name and surname, people will know my religion and caste but I do not want my identity to be shrunk to the narrow confines of religion and caste.”

Upadhyay added that he will file a plea in the Gujarat high court for his right to choose atheism and change his name.

“I am consulting advocates to file a plea before the HC to decide the constitutional issue of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, which does not have provisions for someone to turn atheist. The act only allows conversion from one religion to another.”

P , manager at the gazette office at Rajkot, said he was not aware of the issue.

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