DAILEKH, Feb 9: Expressing anger against the school authorities for allowing a Dalit woman to cook their lunch, students of a local school in Teejdanda, Dailekh have padlocked the school office.
As untouchability and caste-based discrimination is deeply embedded in the rural parts of the country, the so-called higher castes refuse to eat anything cooked or touched by the lowest castes. Students of Himalaya Adharbhut School at Teejdanda padlocked the school after learning that their school lunch was cooked by a low caste person. Accoding to the teachers, students refused to eat the lunch as their parents had taught them that their teeths would fall out if they ate anything cooked by a Dalit.
According to Nirmala Nepali, the assistant cook at the school, students of grades 6 and 7 padlocked the kitchen at around noon on Thursday when she was preparing to cook their lunch.
The non-Dalit students at the school boycotted the meals provided by the school after the school appointed Nirmala two months ago. It is thought that the students took this action as per the suggestions of their parents and teachers. There are altogether 286 students at the school.
"I was away attending a meeting of school principals at Chamunda Resource Center when the students padlocked the school administration," informed Purna Kandel, principal of the school.
Local Dalit leaders have accused the teachers of provoking the students into taking such action. "It could be their parents who compelled students to take such a step," said Kandel. He gave assurances that he would resolve the problem as soon as he reached the school.
The number of such cases has increased in recent days, informed social activist and journalist Amar Sunar. Dalits here are discriminated against and ostracized from religious and public places.They have been tortured, beaten and even killed by the so-called upper caste people for going against their norms.
In 2008, Amrit BK of Jagnath was beaten up and told to pay a compensation of Rs 60,000 for entering into an inter-caste marriage. Later, the case was taken to court where BK was provided legal remedy. Likewise in 2012, Sete Damai of Toli was beaten to death for doing the same thing. Two weeks ago, Pahal Bahadur Kami of Badakhola was beaten up by his neighbors Bhim Bahadur Rokaya and Nagendra Khatri of Kharigaira, accusing him of touching their mattress. There are many such cases which do not come to light.
Only a few of the cases reach the police. According to social activist Prem Bhurtel, it is sad that children are taught even in their schools to discriminate against others on the basis of caste.