Uttarakhand: Dalit students refuse to eat mid-day meal in protest against the removal of a Scheduled Caste cook

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The woman was fired from work after alleged upper caste students refused to eat the mid-day meal prepared by a Dalit cook of a government school in Sukhidhang in Champawat district. The education department officials had cited procedural lapses in the appointment as the reason for the removal of the woman.

(Symbol Photo: Reuters)

Pithoragarh: Dalit students at a government school in Uttarakhand’s Champawat district refused to eat the mid-day meal prepared by an alleged upper caste woman after a Scheduled Caste cook was sacked.

However, the district administration on Sunday said that the issue has been resolved after a consensus between the members of both the communities.

Champawat district magistrate Vineet Tomar said, “I hope Dalit students will resume eating food prepared by the new Bhojanmata (cook) from tomorrow.”

A Dalit cook at a government inter college in Sukhidang was sacked after 43 alleged upper caste children, studying in classes VI to VIII, refused to eat the food cooked by him.

However, the officials of the Champawat Education Department had cited procedural lapses in the appointment as the reason for his sacking.

After this, 32-year-old woman Sunita Devi, who was removed from her job as a cook, had lodged a complaint of harassment with the district authorities and the police on Thursday.

He had said, ‘I have submitted my complaint to the local administration and the police regarding my harassment by the parents of the alleged upper caste students. I feel hurt and humiliated for refusing to eat the mid-day meal cooked by me.

After that, a woman from the so-called upper caste was hired instead of the Dalit woman. In response, 23 Dalit students of the school refused to eat the food prepared by the new cook.

Tomar said that the investigation has been started and the report is expected in a week.

According to the Times of India, taking cognizance of the incident, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has formed a committee to investigate the matter.

Tanakpur SDM Himanshu Kafaltia said, ‘The district magistrate has formed a committee which will conduct a fair investigation. Also, we will ensure that a Bhojanmata is recruited keeping in mind all the rules.

According to the report, this issue has been going on since the villagers of the area are increasingly divided on the basis of caste. Differences between gram sabha members further escalated caste-related tensions in the village on Saturday when five alleged upper caste gram sabha members resigned following a rebellion against the village head, a Dalit. He alleged that he does not take her opinion while taking decisions.

After this, the officials of Champawat district administration held a meeting with the village administration, after which the members of the Gram Sabha withdrew their resignations.

Meanwhile, Congress Rajya Sabha member Pradeep Tamta said his party would launch a campaign to restore the constitutional rights of women after reports surfaced about the removal of the Dalit cook.

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad said that his organization will gherao Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami if the Dalit woman is not hired back.

(with input from news agency language)

Categories: India, Special, Society

Tagged as: Bhojanmata, boycott of food, Champawat, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami, Dalit Students, Dalit Woman, Discrimination Against Dalits, education, Government School, Harassment, Meal Cooked, Mid Day Meal, News, students, The Wire Hindi, upper-caste, Uttarakhand

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