The district administration in Azamgarh on Thursday ordered an inquiry into the complaint against the principal of a government-run boarding girls’ college for allegedly discriminating against students from the Dalit community. The Rajkiya Aashram Paddhati Balika Inter College, run by the state Social Welfare Department at Gaur village in Meh Nagar area of the district, has a hostel for girls.
Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Mehnagar tehsil, Dushyant Kumar Maurya, said the district administration will take action against the principal if she is found guilty. “There was an argument between two students of class IX on Wednesday. They went to the principal and one of the girls, from the Dalit community, alleged that principal Ragini Singh treated her badly and didn’t hear her side. Five Dalit students, who handed over a written complaint to me, said they face discrimination in the school. They said they are made to stand on the back row during morning assembly and sit on back benches in the class,” Maurya said. He said that on Thursday, he went to the school and assured the students of action, if necessary. Maurya added that he was probing the matter.
Suresh Chandra Pal, deputy director of Social Welfare Department, Azamgarh, said, “If the allegations are found to be true, we will take action. I spoke to the students on Wednesday,” Pal said. The school has 303 students, out of which 183 are from the Dalit community. While 87 are from OBC category, 33 are general category students, Pal said and added that it is a residential school with reservation for backward class community. Representatives of Dalit outfit, Bheem Army, staged a protest against the principal on Thursday.
Bheem Army national spokesperson, Manjeet Singh Nautiyal, said, “Dalit students are kept away from regular studies. They are treated differently. The students also told our representatives that girls from upper castes have separate rooms. We sent a team to the school on Thursday and they will submit a report on Friday. We will start an agitation if the district administration does not take action.”
The written complaint, accessed by The Indian Express, demands equality for Dalit students and the suspension of the principal. “The principal abuses us with the worst of slurs. She also abuses our parents and addresses them by casteist slurs. The picture of Dr B R Ambedkar was also removed from the principal’s office. She threatened to suspend us from the school and also threatens us with consequences if we speak about our issues with any official who visits the school,” the complaint, written by the five students, stated.
Speaking over phone, one of the five students, said the principal discriminates even while distributing food. “She serves special food in the hostel to upper caste children,” she alleged.
Principal Ragini Singh denied the allegations but refused to comment.