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HP schools to face action for caste discrimination

Sanjeev Kumar | Shimla |

Taking cognizance of segregation of students on the basis of caste during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Pariksha pe Charcha’ programme in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, the Education Department has asked the school authorities to put an end to the malpractice.

Officials of the Education Department said there have been incidents of discrimination on the basis of caste in some educational institutions of the state which are against the rule of law.

The untouchability or discrimination on the basis of caste entails punishment for the violation of human rights of children and is punishable under the law and Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Act (SC/ST ACT).

“All the principals and headmasters should discourage such malpractices if any, in the educational institutions and ensure that no such untoward incidents happen again in schools under their jurisdiction,” Joint Director of Higher Education, Sonia Thakur said.

She instructed all the heads of schools to give personal attention to weed out such malpractices.

“And failure to comply to these instructions will invite disciplinary action as well as criminal proceedings in the court of law,” Thakur said.

Officials said there is the need to analyse as to how much have the teachers and parents given up on caste discrimination as they, especially, the teachers have the most important role to play in this.

It is worthwhile to mention here that HP has done well in the human development index in comparison to several other states. But the caste based discrimination or atrocities are as high as in other states of the country.

Though many of such cases go unreported because of various reasons, the incident at a school in Kullu district during the telecast of Modi’s programme on examinations has again brought the issue to the fore.

During the telecast of the programme that was reportedly organised at the residence of head of School Management Committee (SMC), dalit students were told to sit outside by a teacher.

The students watched the programme from a stable and the teacher had even warned them to not leave the place until the programme gets over.

After the incident, the government had ordered an inquiry and when the committee, which comprised of Deputy Directors of Higher and Elementary Education, District Project Officer along with other officials visited the school, they found out that dalit students are discriminated during mid-day meals too.

When the committee members tried to serve the mid-day meal to all students at one place, the parents and students belonging to the upper class, refused to have meals with the dalit students.

In the past too, there were complaints of discrimination among students while serving mid-day meals.

Dalits comprise almost one fourth of the total population in the state and maximum number of SC population is found in the districts of Sirmaur, Kullu, Mandi and Solan.