A government school principal and a village deputy sarpanch have been booked in Gujarat’s Junagadh district for allegedly beating up a Dalit woman and her eight-year-old son. The two were booked under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act after Prabha Vala, 30, who worked in the midday meal kitchen of the school, lodged a complaint that a group of men had beaten her up on June 8 in Ghantiya village.
The incident came to light when a video showing Vala and her son being heckled and beaten up went viral Wednesday. Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani posted the video on Twitter. “One year of Una (flogging of seven Dalits) is not far and now this happens in Gujarat. Dalit woman and her kid are thrown around like a rag.’’ Kalubhai Thakrani, the principal, has lodged a complaint against Vala and accused her of assaulting him.
Vala claimed that she was asked to leave her job as the mid-day meal in-charge of Ghantiya government school because she is a Dalit. “I have worked in this school for 10 years. The principal, Kalubhai Thakrani, has attempted to throw me out in the past saying that it is not right for a Dalit to be involved in serving meals. When I refused, they pulled me out and then threw my son out. I got angry and slapped one of the village leaders. After that they all started beating me up. I got numb after a point and all I could hear was ‘aaney mari nakho ( kill her)’, “ Vala told The Indian Express.
Vala said that she was hospitalised for two days after they thrashed her. “Over these two days, the mamlatdar asked me to leave my job and ensured that he sent an official letter informing me that I am no longer employed,’’ said Vala, whose husband Girish Vala is in-charge of mid-day meals at a school in Bantiya.
Thakrani told The Indian Express that Vala had not been submitting bills of the mid-day meals for over 10 months now. “We kept asking her to do the same. We took the matter to the mamlatdar and had told her that action will be taken if she does not follow rules. She got people of her community and made it seem like a community issue.’’ He said that they have complained to officials in Gandhinagar about the missing bills. “When we asked her why she was not giving the bills, she said that nowadays no one submits bills for mid-day meals.’’