THE KILLING of two Dalit children in Haryana’s Sunpedh village, allegedly in an attack by Rajputs, did not just rattle residents of the area but also the 187 students from the village at the local government school.
According to teachers at the school, which admits students from Class 1-8, most children stayed away on October 20 and 21, fearing a fallout from the alleged attack that took place on October 19 night leading to the deaths of three-year-old Vaibhav and nine-month-old Divya. Incidentally, in a village where Rajputs are the dominant caste, the majority of students in this school are from the Dalit and OBC communities — 155 out of 187.
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According to records maintained in two separate offices — one for Class 1-5 and the other for Class 6-8 — there was a 60 per cent decline in attendance on October 20 and over 80 per cent the next day in the senior classes as “more people became aware of the incident”, said Dharamvir Sharma, a Sanskrit teacher.
In the primary classes, only 32 out of 99 students attended school on the morning of October 20. “The effect of the incident was visible. Parents were not keen on sending their children to school. Those who did stayed at the school till classes were over to take their children home,” said Neelam, who teaches in classes 4 and 5.
Finally, on October 22, when the school was closed due to Dussehra, school staff went around the village to persuade parents to send their children to school.
“We told the parents to not let the incident affect the children, more so because the students were starting their monthly exams today,” Sharma said.
Even though the exam was scheduled to be held from 8-9.30 am, many students showed up only in the afternoon and that too, after school staff called the parents again and asked them to send their children. “Once again, many parents sat outside the school, while their children wrote the exam,” said Sharma.