Thursday, October 21, 2004

Cooked by a Dalit: Students boycott mid-day meal

Thursday, October 21, 2004 (Ghaziabad):

A school in Nagla Musha village in Ghaziabad has been shut down following an incident that took place on October 4.

On this day, according to the mid-day meal scheme of the Uttar Pradesh government, the students of the school were served lunch.

However, the students boycotted the meal, refusing to eat food cooked by a Dalit.

And in a shocking twist, a teacher in the school allowed only the Dalit students to eat the mid-day meal.

"Once they realised that the food had been prepared by a Harijan, the Muslim children refused to eat," says Roshni Deve, a villager.

Caste divide

Along with Muslims, there are quite a few Dalit families in this village. There are 131 students in the school out of which 80 are Muslims, and 32 Dalits.

Students in the school have been served the mid-day meal only once even after the school received funds from the government.

Perhaps the reason for this is the growing tension among different castes in the village. However, the Gram Pradhan denies this and says it's simply because they lack the necessary resources.

"We do not have utensils, and no payment has been made. Nothing happened on that day. All the children had the mid-day meal," claims Mustafa, Pradhan.

"A case has been registered against Gajendra Kaushik, a teacher in the school, for inciting caste violence," says Anil Kumar Jha, CO, Modinagar.

Even though the number of students in UP schools has increased, the real purpose seems to have been defeated as the school administration spends more time on cooking and feeding the children than on educating them.

Source: NDTV, October 21, 2004


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