Dalit students at a school in Himachal Pradesh were reportedly made to sit outside, separately, in a "place used for horses" during the telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘Pariksha Par Charcha’ last Friday.
An Indian Express report stated that some of the students complained to Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus on Friday evening, alleging that a teacher, Mehar Chand, told them to sit outside the room where the television had been set up.
The school in Kullu’s Chestha gram panchayat had made arrangements at the residence of the head of the school management committee for students to watch Modi’s video conference on Pariksha Par Charcha.The students were allegedly warned not to leave midway through the programme, they said.
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The complaint, written in Hindi on a school notebook, also included allegations 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, according to the report.
A local organisation, Anusuchit Jati Kalyan Sangh, on Saturday started a protest following a purported video clip of the incident, following which, the head master offered an apology.
“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 told the paper.
The State Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj has asked education authorirties to take strict action against the guily.
“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.
Education Secretary, Arun Sharma told the paper, "The government will seek a report from the local administration and recommend suitable action."
The member of the local organisation also claimed that similar instances of Dalit students facing discrimination were reported earlier. “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,” the member added.
Deputy Commissioner Yunus told the paper that a magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident as it is a “serious matter”.
“SDM Kullu, Sunny Sharma, will hold the magisterial inquiry. The report has been sought in the next two days. Disciplinary action has already been initiated against the headmaster. If the incident is confirmed, criminal liability will be fixed,” the commissioner 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.