Almora govt school faces probe into ‘caste discrimination’ during midday meal


Dehradun: Authorities on Wednesday began investigating allegations that Dalit and upper caste children sat in separate rows for the midday meal in a case of discrimination at a government school near Almora in Uttarakhand. The incident allegedly occurred over a fortnight ago at the primary school in Almora’s district’s Thali.
However, officials who visited the school after the incident claimed that there was nothing which pointed at caste discrimination at the school, where the principal himself was from a scheduled caste.
“A memorandum has been submitted to the district administration alleging that there were separate rows for upper caste and Dalit students for the midday meal at the school. An investigating officer has been appointed to investigate the matter,” Sub Divisional Magistrate Gopal Singh Chauhan said.
Chauhan said the school principal has maintained that there is no truth in the allegations. “However, an investigation has been ordered into the matter after which the truth will be known,” he added.
The memorandum was submitted on Monday, he said.
Meanwhile, Almora’s acting chief education officer Satya Narayan who along with tehsildar Barkha Jalal visited the school said there appeared to be no discrimination among students.
“We spoke to the guardians whose children study there. None of them levelled such allegations against the school. The school principal Bhuvan Ram Arya himself belongs to the Scheduled Castes,” the official told PTI.
“Thirty-three students study at the school, out of whom 22 are from the general category and 11 are SCs. Students sit in separate rows for the midday meal so that all of them can be accommodated. There is no division like one row for upper castes and the other for SCs,” Narayan said.
The official said the complainants were outsiders whose children did not study at the school.
About the video which surfaced on December 13 in which four students are purportedly shown sitting in a separate row, the acting CEO said 10 SC students attended school on that particular day.
“If there was an exclusive row meant for SC students, all 10 should have been sitting in the row not just four as shown in the video,” he said, casting doubts on the veracity of the video.
The official said a report based on their talk with the schoolchildren’s guardians will be submitted to the district administration.

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