‘Harassed Because of My Caste,’ Says Dalit Govt Teacher Suspended Over ‘Saraswati Worship’ Row (The Wire)

The suspension of Hemlata Bairwa has led to state-wide protests by Dalit groups, who are demanding its revocation and the resignation of the state education minister.

Hemlata Bairwa. Photo: X/@jitu_rajoriya.

By Deep Mukherjee

Jaipur: Last month, a video of the Republic Day celebrations at a government upper primary school in Rajasthan’s Baran district went viral on social media, where a group of men could be seen arguing with Hemlata Bairwa, a 40-year-old teacher of the school.

Bairwa belongs to a Dalit community.

A month later, Bairwa has been suspended by the state education department on the instructions of minister Madan Dilawar, and asked to report to duty in Bikaner, more than 600 kms from her home. The suspension of Bairwa has led to state-wide protests by Dalit groups, who are demanding the revocation of Bairwa’s suspension and resignation of the minister.

In the video from January 26 this year, Bairwa can be seen standing in front of garlanded photos of Mahatma Gandhi, Savitribai Phule and B.R. Ambedkar while a group of men are confronting her.

Bacchon ki devi to Saraswati hai (the goddess of children is Saraswati),” the men are heard saying, to which Bairwa replies, “Bacchon ki devi toh Savitribai Phule hai (the goddess of children is Savitribai Phule).”

When the men insist that Bairwa do a puja of the Hindu deity Saraswati, she is seen refusing. Thereafter, the men assembled in front of the school are seen challenging her to go ahead with the programme. One of the men asks why there was no lamp and whether Bairwa is ignorant of Hindu traditions.

“What is the meaning of Hindu? Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai sab barabar hai (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian are all equal),” Bairwa is heard saying in the video.

This story was originally published in thewire.in. Read the full story here.

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