Recently, 60 out of the 80 children belonging to the Scheduled Caste community were compelled to keep their utensils apart and wash them on their own at Daudapur Government Primary School in Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh.
The matter came to the limelight following a recent complaint against the school authorities. When officials visited the school, they discovered that the utensils used by these children for mid-day meals were kept separately on the premises and washed by the kids themselves. Taking strict action, headmistress Garim Rajput was suspended and two cooks were also relieved of their duties after they refused to touch the utensils used by the SC students, The Indian Express reported.
"The complaint was made by the husband of the newly elected sarpanch Manju Devi, which later came out to be true," Mainpuri Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) Kamal Singh said.
"After receiving the complaint, a team was sent to the school to carry out an inspection," he said.
"The utensils used by the SC children were kept separately. During the visit, the cooks Somvati and Laxmi Devi said they could not touch the utensils of the Scheduled Caste students, can't work if they were forced to do so. They also used caste slurs," Singh said.
Sarpanch Manju Devi's husband Sahab Singh said some parents had informed him about the discriminatory behaviour earlier this month. "On September 18, I visited the school for a meeting. I saw the kitchen was dirty and that only 10-15 plates were kept there. I asked the cooks where the other thaalis were, they responded that the ones in the kitchen belonged to Backward and General Category students, while 50-60 thaalis were kept separately. I was informed that students belonging to Scheduled Castes were forced to wash their own dishes and keep them, as no one belonging to other castes was willing to touch them," Sahab Singh said.
He added that after complaining about the matter, local journalists and officials took this forward. While nearly 35 per cent of the village population is Dalit, the Thakurs make up a similar number, with the rest belonging to Backward Classes.