Headlines Today Bureau  Harda (MP), October 1, 2012

Young Dalit students of a government school in Madhya Pradesh‘s Harda district, around 120 km from state capital Bhopal, have accused the school authorities of humiliation and discriminationbecause of their castes.These children alleged that they were facing injustice in their school everyday as they were being served tiny portions of leftover food even though they are entitled to proper mealsunder the midday meal scheme. On the other hand, the other students of the school were given proper food, they claimed.The students alleged that to humiliate them the person who served the food would literally throw it at them to avoid any physical contact. Their demand for a second helping would often make the attendants see red, they alleged.

The students were even forced to wash their own dishes after the meals, while the practice was not same for the remaining students of the school, they added.

“They discriminate against us and make us sit separately. They throw the food at us. They call us Dalits and refuse to wash our utensils, alleged a student.

Even the sitting arrangement for Dalit students has been separate, both during classes and mealtimes.

Another student said, “I am a student of fourth grade. They make us sit separately. The other kids are asked to sit at a distance from us.”

Though the students have repeatedly complained to their parents about the mistreatment and humiliation they face in the school, the latter had no courage to demand justice.

However, the school management rubbished the students’ allegations. Even the district administration denied any discrimination.

“There has never been any discrimination as such in my tenure. But our cook, who is an ST, is too scared to cook meals for everyone. We requested her. She has decided to quit the job,” the principal said.

“Every student is fed together. There is no discrimination. If an SC/ST cook prepares meal, General and OBC students would refuse to eat,” claimed a teacher.

The sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Harda said, “People had gone there to investigate. But reports can only be filed when the real situation of midday meal is seen there. Only then can we say what the truth is. For the time being, there is nothing as such.”