School dismisses 11 Dalit cousins over ‘defiling’ of water

We have arrested the teacher Mangal Singh and seized school records, says District Collector

Published - September 21, 2014 01:38 am IST - BIKANER:

Eleven children, cousins from a Dalit family, were dismissed from a government primary school in a remote village in Bikaner earlier this month because two of them, Virendra and Rakesh, drank water kept in an earthen pot for their upper caste teacher, Mangal Singh.

The incident took place on September 1 in the school at Meghwalon ki Dhani of Tat village in Nokha tehsil, about 70 km from the district headquarters.

Singh, who was arrested late on Friday night, allegedly humiliated them and beat them up. He allegedly told their fathers, Mangilal and Prakash Ram Meghwal, who complained about his behaviour on September 2, that the children had “defiled” the water.

“We have arrested the teacher and seized records from the school,” District Collector Aarti Dogra told The Hindu . “The Sub-Divisional Magistrate and the District Education Officer were immediately sent to the village. We are awaiting their report.”Mangal Singh called the parents on September 6 and apologised to them for his behaviour. Just when things seemed to settle down, he asked the parents to sign or put their thumb impressions on 11 blank sheets of paper. The unsuspecting parents did so. When their children went to the school on September 8, they were handed over transfer certificates and asked to go home.

Apart from Virendra and Rakesh, Manoj, Vimla, Pawan, Mamta, Maina, Harish, Leela, Jassu and Draupadi were dismissed. The school has 25 children, 20 of whom are Dalits.

When the family failed to get their children readmitted to the school, they lodged a complaint with the police. Jagruk Nagrik Manch, a non-governmental organisation, lodged a complaint with the Child Helpline on Friday following which the administration swung into action.

In his statement to the police, Mangal Singh alleged that the parents had been pressuring him to remove the cook, Dhapu Devi, and school management committee chairperson, Ramchander Meghwal. When he refused to do so, they voluntarily pulled the children out of the school.

“We are looking into these allegations as well,” Ms. Dogra said.

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