DALIT STUDENTS of a government high school in Kullu were reportedly made to sit separately outside, in a “place used for horses”, during the telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Pariksha Par Charcha’ on Friday.
According to reports, the school in Kullu’s Chestha gram panchayat had made arrangements for students to watch Modi’s televised programme at the residence of the head of the school management committee.
In a complaint to Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus on Friday evening, some of the students alleged that a teacher, Mehar Chand, told them to sit outside the room where the television had been set up. “Dalit students were made to sit in a place used for keeping horses,” they said, adding that they were warned not to leave midway through the programme.
In their complaint, written in Hindi on a school notebook, the students alleged that they are also subjected to “caste discrimination during midday meals”. “Students belonging to Scheduled Caste category are made to sit separately. Even the headmaster does nothing… he also practices untouchability,” they said.
Following a purported video clip of the incident, a local organisation, Anusuchit Jati Kalyan Sangh, lodged a protest with the school headmaster, Rajan Bhardwaj, and deputy director, education, Kullu, Jagdish Pathania, on Saturday.
“The headmaster, Rajan Bhardwaj, has confirmed the incident and tendered an apology, assuring that this will not be allowed to happen again. But that’s not enough,” said a member of the organisation.
“This matter has come to my notice today. I have asked Secretary, Education to get a report and take stern action,” said State Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj. “I have also been told that Dalit students faced discrimination in the school earlier too, during midday meals. If these reports are true, we will not spare the guilty,” he said.
“The government will seek a report from the local administration and recommend suitable action,” said Secretary (Education) Arun Sharma.
Terming it as a “serious matter”, Deputy Commissioner Yunus said a magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident. “SDM Kullu, Sunny Sharma, will hold the magisterial inquiry. The report has been sought in the next two days,” he said. “Disciplinary action has already been initiated against the headmaster. If the incident is confirmed, criminal liability will be fixed,” he said.
An inquiry committee comprising deputy director (higher education), deputy director (elementary education), district project officer, ICDS, and the local SHO is scheduled to visit the school on Monday.