By/ Telegraph India
A male teacher at a government school in Uttar Pradesh “punched and kicked” an 11-year-old Scheduled Caste girl student on Saturday for collecting drinking water from a particular pitcher, her father has alleged.
“My daughter, a Class VII student at our village school, normally takes water from the earthen pitcher meant for girl students,” Ramesh Kumar of Chhikahara in Mahoba district, 250km south of Lucknow, told reporters.
“But the pitcher was empty, so she collected water from the pitcher set aside for teachers.”
Kumar added: “She told me that Kalyan Singh, an assistant teacher, ran towards her and punched and kicked her while shouting, ‘Why did you touch it?’ He kept shouting that she was a Dalit and was trying to spoil his caste.”
Mahoba is in the backward Bundelkhand region, notorious for the practice of untouchability. No police case has been registered. Any action against Singh will be taken only after an inquiry by Gaurav Shukla, assistant basic education officer for the district.
The girl, whose name is being withheld because she is a minor, said the school has separate pitchers for boys, girls and teachers. Each pitcher has a steel mug placed on its earthen lid.
Singh denied having handed out “corporal punishment” — banned under the law — and told reporters he had only scolded the girl for putting her hand inside the pitcher instead of using the mug.
“I scolded her for the unhygienic act,” he said.
Sub-divisional magistrate Jitendra Singh said he had received a complaint of untouchability, and the inquiry report was expected in two days.
In many villages of Bundelkhand, made up of seven districts of Uttar Pradesh and six of Madhya Pradesh, upper caste residents are known to lock the public hand pumps to prevent the lower castes from using them.
“It was a serious issue in the past but the government has succeeded in checking such activities,” an administrative official from adjoining Banda district said, seeking anonymity.
“As soon as we receive such complaints, we send police to unlock the hand pumps and warn the (upper caste) villagers. But most people (victims) avoid giving written complaints.”
Harun Ali Munnawar, headmaster of a government primary school at Badkagaon in Baghpat district of western Uttar Pradesh, was suspended on Sunday for allegedly beating a Class VI student when the boy refused to clean his motorcycle.
Rakesh Kumar, the boy’s father, had lodged complaints with the police and the state education department on Saturday.
“My son told me he had felt tired after cleaning a part of the motorcycle and sat down to rest but the headmaster ordered him to continue. He was beaten when he refused,” Rakesh said.
Prakash Chand, assistant basic education officer for the district, said: “The headmaster has been suspended and an inquiry has been ordered.”
This article first appeared on telegraphindia.com