Dalits

Who institigated upper caste students to boycott taking food with Dalits?

September 22, 2014 06:08 PM

SHIMLA, Sept. 22: The caste divide among students of a government middle school in Mandi has left education department officials apprehensive. They fear someone must be instigating upper caste students not to have food sitting in the same row as dalit students. After coming to know about the discrimination against dalit students in Government Middle School, Neri, Mandi, the education department, on Friday, issued a circular asking schools to distribute mid-day meal according to roll numbers so that students could have their meals together. But much to the chagrin of authorities, upper caste students preferred to remain absent.

"Discrimination against dalit students is rampant but ironically, whenever such an incident comes to light, officials inquiring into the matter try to cover up the issue. Till date, there has not been a single incident where strict action was initiated on the issue of discrimination,"


A senior official of the district administration said, earlier there was no problem as all students had their meals together. "But now, general category students refuse to take meals with dalit students. We suspect someone is instigating them," said the official. Mandi deputy commissioner Kadam Sandeep Vasant asked the police to probe the matter.

While the education department is planning a meeting with parents, a social activist from Shimla filed a petition against the discrimination in Himachal Pradesh High Court on Saturday. Dalits in Himachal Pradesh are subjected to discrimination during social functions like marriages, where they are not allowed to have food with upper caste people. In rural areas, they are not even allowed to enter temples. But now, dalit children are subjected to discrimination and humiliation even in schools.

"Discrimination against dalit students is rampant but ironically, whenever such an incident comes to light, officials inquiring into the matter try to cover up the issue. Till date, there has not been a single incident where strict action was initiated on the issue of discrimination," said Uttam Ram, former president, Murah Gram Panchayat, Mandi.

This June, Uttam Ram and some other people lodged a complaint with the Mandi police after dalit students were forced to sit at a distance during a community feast organized to celebrate the golden jubilee of the government primary school of the village. "No action has been initiated against those who asked dalit students not to sit with upper caste students and people," he said.

LR Chauhan, president of Seraj Yuvak Mandal, which has been campaigning for the right to equality for dalits for past several years, said Government Middle School, Neri is not the only one where dalit students are subjected to discrimination. "The list of such schools is long but the irony is that the administration has failed to take action against the people who are creating a divide among children on the basis of caste," he said.

Chauhan said such divisiveness is quite common at schools located in remote areas, where officials fail to reach. He said teachers fear opposition from upper caste parents if they ask students to sit together. "Discrimination has bred an inferiority complex among dalit students," he said.

Mandi deputy director, Education, RK Vidyarthi said a circular issued by the department has made it clear that students cannot be discriminated against in schools. He said schools are being monitored and awareness would be created among parents through meetings to end the practice. "On Monday, parents will be called to discuss the issue," he said.

 

 

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