Till a few days ago, the number of students in the Government Higher Primary School at Kagganahalli in Mulbagal taluk of Kolar district was 118. As on Monday, the students on the roll stood at just 18.
While 70 students left to join other schools in surrounding areas, 30 have been admitted to Class 8 in the upgraded school.
The shocking reason for this, allegedly, is that Radhamma, a Dalit woman, is the cook for the midday meal programme here. Parents, it is learnt, do not want their children to eat meals cooked by her and have taken Transfer Certificates of their wards. Kolar is among the districts with a large Dalit population and the Kolar Lok Sabha seat is a reserved one.
Bhaskar Rao, Additional Director-General of Police, Civil Rights Enforcement (CRE) Directorate, visited the village on Monday to take stock of the situation. What is intriguing about this situation is that even though Ms. Radhamma started working as a cook in the school in February 2014, the children in the school hailing from various communities — including Backward Classes and Dalits — started boycotting meals only in the last few months.
“It is a pointer to some ugly local politics in the village. If a Dalit woman is the reason, why are even Dalit children withdrawing from the school?” asked an officer of the Education Department on condition of anonymity. Even SDMC president Sureshbabu’s (who belongs to the Scheduled Tribes) son did not partake food in the school, sources said. Nearly 15 Scheduled Castes and six Scheduled Tribes students left the school, Mulbagal Block Education Officer N. Devaraj said.
On Monday, Mr. Bhaskar Rao himself consumed food with the students. Since not many people turned up at the meeting, it was resolved to hold it again on November 18.
It is a pointer to some ugly local politics in the village. If a Dalit woman is the reason, why are even Dalit children withdrawing from the school? Senior officer of the Education Department