Sahab Singh, the man who exposed that a Mainpuri school was forcing children belonging to the Scheduled Castes to wash the utensils they used for their mid-day meals and then keeping them separate from other utensils, has alleged that he is being threatened by Thakurs of Daudapur village. The news had created ripples across the country as it had exposed the scourge of caste based distrimination in Uttar Pradesh, once again. His wife Manju Devi, won the recent panchayat elections from Daudapur village, an SC reserved seat and was elected Pradhan or the village head.
Singh, according to a report in The Indian Express, said that he was being “openly threatened” by the Thakurs of his village after he complained about the school’s caste discrimination. Singh, has alleged that the Thakur’s of his village “are openly saying that they won’t let a Dalit continue to remain the village pradhan. They used caste slurs on me as well. They are threatening to break my bones and even shoot me… They are doing this hungama (ruckus) in the village. I had come to meet the Superintendent of Police and District Magistrate, but they were not available. I will submit a complaint to everyone, including the honourable Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath).” According to a news report, this government primary school has 60 students belonging to the Scheduled Castes, out of a toral 80 enrolled.
What happened after the school was exposed?
Soon after the caste discrimination at the primary school made headlines, it forced the Mainpuri district administration to take action and the school headmistress Garima Rajput was suspended. The two mid-day meal cooks, Somvati Devi and Laxmi Devi, who had reportedly “refused to touch the utensils of the Scheduled Caste students” were suspended as well. The two had allegedly told the officials who had visited the school that if they were “forced” to touch the SC students’ utensils they wouldn’t work at the school. It was reported that the utensils used by the SC children “were kept in the classroom”, while those used by other students were kept in the kitchen. This allegation, if true, reflects on the common practice that anything touched by the so-called ‘lower caste’ persons is considered ‘defiled or impure’ by the so-called ‘upper castes’. Students told the media that this was the way things had been conducted here for years. The IE reported that this village “has an almost equal number of Thakurs and Dalits (nearly 35%), while the rest belong to the Other Backward Class.”
As expected in such places, the Thakurs live on the other side of the village and have denied that they threatened Sahab Singh and in turn accused him of fuelling “caste animosity in the village”.
According to Mainpuri Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) Kamal Singh, the allegations of caste discrimination at the school, were true. He said, “Utensils used by the Scheduled Caste children and other children were kept separately. The Block Development Officer and other officials visited the school. During the visit, the cooks Somvati and Laxmi Devi refused to touch the utensils of the Scheduled Caste students, and said they can’t work at the school if they were forced to do so. They also used caste slurs.” While the school may have reopened by now and midday meals resumed it is yet to be seen of the caste discrimination continues.
Other cases of caste base discrimination, sometimes leading to heinous crimes against the oppressed sections continue to be reported fro Uttar Pradesh, here are some heinous crimes againts Dalits that were reported in the past 7 days:
Kanpur Dehat, September 25: Dalit labourer killed, after he filed molestation case
A 30-year-old Dalit labourer was beaten to death by a group of 11 people, four of whom he had named on a molestation case. The attack took place in Kanpur Dehat and the victim died of his injuries a day after he was brutally attacked. The accused include four men the victim had named in a molestation case. The Dalit man had accused the men, all residents of the same village of molesting his wife. According to news reports, one of the accused is the former pradhan of the village. Circle Officer (Akbarpur) Arun Kumar Singh told the media that the group attacked the Dalit man with sticks and firearms outside his house. The attack followed the September 14 case where the victim had accused four persons for allegedly molesting his wife when she had gone to the field. It is not yet known if any of the accused have been arrested yet.
Jehanabad, September 23: 16-year-old Dalit girl abducted, raped
The 16-year-old Dalit girl was reportedly sleeping in a shed outside her house when she was abducted by a 22-year-old man. According to news reports the teenager’s family had filed a police complaint alleging that she was asleep in the shed outside her house when the 22-year-old man “took her to his house and raped her”. The father of the girl, along with some villagers, rescued the girl the next day, stated news reports. The family then informed the police. The Jehanabad Police Station SHO Keshavdas Verma told the media that the accused was booked the under charges of rape and threatening to kill, and also under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the SC/ST Act. However, police said that the accused is yet to be arrested and is “absconding”.
Aligarh ,September 21: Body of Dalit girl found, family alleges sexual assault
An 8-year-old dalit girl was found dead in a field near Kishangarh village in Aligarh. Police told the media that the child had “had left for school at around 8 A.M on Monday ” and around noon “her school bag was spotted by some passers-by who raised an alarm”.
The girl had not reached school, and her family started looking for her and soon discovered her body in the field, said the police. The family has alleged that the child was sexually assaulted before being killed. According to news reports the grieving family and villagers “blocked traffic on the Tappal-Lalpur road for over two hours and refused to hand over the body to police for conducting post-mortem.” It was only after senior police officials spoke to them did they hand over the body for a post-mortem examination. However, SSP Kalanidhi Naithani told reporters, “Any comment on the cause of death can only be made after the post-mortem report is received.” It is not known if any arrests have been made in the case so far.