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Assam: Arrested over beef for school lunch, headmistress now suspended

The office of the District Elementary Education, under the Assam government, Wednesday issued a notice placing her under suspension with “immediate effect” in connection with the case against her at Lakhipur Police Station.

The Goalpara Police Monday booked the 56-year-old after the school management committee complained that she brought beef for lunch to school during a government event.

Officials in Assam’s Goalpara district have suspended the 56-year-old headmistress who had been arrested for allegedly carrying beef for lunch to school.

The office of the District Elementary Education, under the Assam government, Wednesday issued a notice placing her under suspension with “immediate effect” in connection with the case against her at Lakhipur Police Station.

The Goalpara Police Monday booked the 56-year-old after the school management committee complained that she brought beef for lunch to school during a government event. That had created a sense of “discomfort” among the staff members, a senior police official from the district had earlier said.

While consumption of beef is not banned in the state, the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, passed in 2021, bans the sale and purchase of beef or beef products in areas “predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and other non beef-eating communities”, or “within a radius of 5 km” of any temple or sattra (Vaishnavite monasteries).

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The headmistress was booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence) and 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code.

An Education Department official said a block-level inquiry has been initiated into the incident. “The report is to be submitted within two days,” he said, adding that the department would have issued the suspension order earlier, but was delayed because of two public holidays.

The official said that according to the inquiry, the teacher had brought both chicken and beef to school in small amounts, and was going to serve it to the external evaluator for lunch, who was visiting the school for the programme. “Both of them (external evaluator and headmistress) belonged to the same community. However, the cook-cum-helper objected to serving it. The evaluator, too, expressed that she was unhappy that beef was brought to school during a government/public function,” said the official, adding that other staff members got to know and the word spread, leading to the school management committee to file a complaint against the teacher.

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The headmistress is currently in judicial custody. The Education Department official said she was headmistress-in charge for about one-and-a-half years, but had taught in the school for much longer. “I am not sure when she joined but she is set to retire in four years,” he said.

First published on: 19-05-2022 at 10:58:21 pm
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