District Magistrate of Ballia Bhawani Singh on Thursday visited the government primary school in Rampur Udaybhan area and prima facie rejected reports of alleged discrimination of Dalit students by the upper caste students.
He, however, ordered a detailed probe by a Joint Magistrate into the allegation that general category students sit separately from the rest when food is served as part of the mid-day meal scheme.
“I went to the school with other officials to see what the matter was… We spoke to all the children (present in the school) and some of the parents. Not one of them said that there is any kind of (caste) discrimination… However, I have ordered a detailed probe in which I have instructed the Joint Magistrate to talk to each of the school students individually so that there is no pressure from anyone. If the allegations come out to be true, we will take action,” Singh told The Indian Express, adding that of total 42 students, only 18 were present on Thursday with not a single upper caste student.
School principal Purushottam Kumar Gupta, however, admitted that the general category students sat separately from the rest of the students.
According to the principal, the school has 42 students, out of which, only three are from general catergory — two Brahmins, one Kshatriya — and the rest from Other Backward Class, Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Caste.
“Around 70 per cent of the children in the school are from the Dalit community,” the principal said, adding that he and other teachers have tried to make the children sit together and eat on several occasions. “We have tried our best. We can not force the children to do something. There is a possibility that they learn these things at home or in their society. The general category children sit separately and eat. This may probably be due to groups or friendship,” said Gupta.
Basic Shiksha Adhikari Subhash Gupta, who had accompanied the DM to the school on Thursday, also denied the allegations of caste discrimination at the school.
Earlier in the day, BSP chief Mayawati tweeted about the alleged discrimination against the Dalit children. “The news that at a government school in UP’s Balia district, Dalit children are being made to sit and eat separately is sad and condemnable. The BSP demands that those guilty of discrimination on the basis of caste should face strict legal action from the state government. This should be done so that others learn a lesson and this kind of incident does not happen again.”