According to school authorities and district police, Dhara Makwana was awarded the contract for preparing midday meals at Shri Sokhda Primary School at Sokhda village by the mamlatdar in June. On June 16, she cooked food for around 153 students. However, influenced by their parents, as many as 147 students from OBC communities refused to stay for the meal, said a complaint filed before the Morbi taluka police inspector recently.
Such incidents are a matter of national shame. The Dalit cook must continue with the job assigned to her. Those not consuming the food should be persuaded to see the backwardness and untenability of their position by senior district officials. If that doesn’t work, legal action must follow. Article 17 of the Constitution abolishes untouchability. Practicing it in any form is forbidden. Those who continue to do so should face the consequences. Meanwhile, their entitlement for midday meal should be revoked.
Dhara’s husband Gopi Makwana told TOI, “As the students did not sit in a queue to get their food, I inquired with some parents. They told me they could not allow their children to eat food cooked by a Dalit woman. ” Gopi said a lot of food was wasted. After this, school authorities spoke to the parents but to no avail.
“I also filed a complaint with the police, which was transferred to a DySP. Police officers told me this was an issue concerning the school and the district administration and they could not interfere,” said Gopi.
Dhara said that she has been victimised because of casteist bias and the police must intervene.
School principal Bindiya Ratnotar confirmed the episode and said she had held two meetings with the school monitoring committee which includes the parents but they are adamant. “They do not want to abandon their casteist thinking. We can teach children not to have a casteist attitude and that all are equal and no one is untouchable. Sadly, we cannot convince their parents,” Ratnotar said.
District primary education officer Bharat Virja said he was not aware of the matter and would look into the case.