This follows the appointment of a Dalit cook

In Kuppegala village in Mysuru district, schoolchildren have been asked to stay away from classes by their parents. The reason: the appointment of a Dalit woman as an assistant cook for the midday meals programme.

The Kuppegala Government Higher Primary School has a strength of 150 students. The immediate cause for boycotting the school is the appointment of a Dalit woman as the assistant cook – a post which was vacant since 2002-03. Kuppegala is in Varuna hobli, about 25 km from Mysuru and lies in Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s constituency.

According to the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) member Mr. Manjunath, the post was never filled all these years as some dominant caste members had opposed the appointment of a Dalit woman. However, this vacancy was filled up recently and ever since the children have been staying away from classes, he added.

School headmaster B. Chikkadevaru told The Hindu that some parents had stopped sending their children to school for a week though there have been meetings and counselling by the officials. “As on Friday, 113 students attended the school, of whom 110 had midday meals prepared in the school,” said Mr. Chikkadevaru.

The newly-appointed cook has been on leave for the last three days.

However, parents of 37 children are adamant and Mr. Chikkadevaru said that there would be meetings with them during the week.

When contacted, Deputy Director of Public Instruction Basappa said he had already visited the village and tried to convince the parents.

However, Mr. Manjunath said some SDMC members had told him they would not send their children to school and if they did, would ensure their children did not eat the meals.

He alleged that the dominant caste group had barred the entry of Dalits to the two temples there but when the latter gained entry, the priests stopped puja at the sanctum sanctorum.