Bokaro, Feb. 9: If you cannot eliminate an evil, promote it.
That appears to be what the district administration here believes in. Unable to put an end to untouchability at Pothudih primary school (Chandankyari), the Bokaro deputy commissioner has now ordered a new school to be set up for Scheduled Caste children, to be taught presumably by Scheduled Caste teachers.
Both the deputy commissioner, Amarendra Pratap Singh, and the district education officer, Mahip Singh, admit that upper caste villagers have been preventing “Harijan” children from having the mid-day meal at the school. They were so persistently humiliated that as many as 65 of these children stopped attending classes nine months ago.
But rather than take action against the culprits, the DEO has recommended that a new school be set up so that “Harijan” children do not suffer. “Some villagers are playing politics but the administration will do its best to ensure that these children are able to attend classes,” the DC said. He possibly is just being pragmatic but allowing untouchability to flourish unchecked, and his failure to take action against the guilty — is violative of both the law and the spirit of the Constitution.
Lakshmi Kalindi, a student of Class III, is anxious to get back to class. The nine-year-old is a state scholarship recipient. But she said though only 16 students, out of 81, belong to the upper caste Bhumihars, they humiliated the rest, refused to allow the “lower caste” students to touch utensils used to cook the mid-day meal, sit on the same bench and have the meal. Lakshmi has not gone back to school after March 2005.
Kitaab Kalindi (10) and others also claimed that their families had been warned of social boycott if they dared to attend classes. At least half-a-dozen students among the 65 “untouchables” were actually receiving “talent scholarships” from the government.
A student of Class IV, Guuja Kalindi, had dared to touch the utensil once. But she received a hard slap for her audacity from a fellow student, who threw away the food in the utensil. Upper caste Bhumihars came up with the lame excuse that some SC children continue to study here.