Dalit students at a government school in Champawat district refused to eat mid-day meals cooked by an upper caste woman after a cook belonging to the Scheduled Castes was sacked. The district administration, however, said on Sunday that the issue has been resolved after members from both communities arrived at a consensus.
“I hope the Dalit students will resume eating the food prepared by the new Bhojan Mata (cook) from tomorrow," Champawat District Magistrate Vineet Tomar said. A Dalit cook at the Government Inter-College, Sukhi Dang, was sacked after 43 children from upper caste communities, studying in classes VI - VIII, refused to eat food cooked by her. The Champawat education department officials, however, cited procedural lapses in her appointment as the reason for her ouster.
She was replaced by an upper caste woman. In retaliation, 23 Dalit students of the school refused to consume the mid-day meal prepared by the new cook. Tomar, for his part, said an inquiry has been initiated and the report is expected in a week.
After the news about the ouster of the Dalit cook made headlines, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pradeep Tamta said his party will launch an agitation to restore the woman’s Constitutional rights. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan said his outfit will gherao Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami if the Dalit woman was not re-instated.