TNN | Aug 4, 2022, 06.32 AM IST
AHMEDABAD: Since June 16, as many as 147 students from OBC communities such as Koli, Bharwad, Thakor and Gadhvi have not been sitting for food served under the government’s midday meal programme at a school in Morbi. This is allegedly because a Dalit woman had been awarded the work of cooking mid-day meal at the school and many parents do not wish their wards to eat food cooked by her. According to school authorities and district police, Dhara Makwana was awarded the contract for preparing the midday meal for Shri Sokhda Primary School at Sokhda village in Morbi district by the mamlatdar in June.
On June 16, she went to school and cooked food for around 153 students. 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.
Dhara Makwana’s husband, Gopi Makwana, told TOI, “As the students did not sit in a queue to get their food, I inquired with some parents, and they told me they could not allow their children to eat food cooked by a Dalit woman.”
Gopi said much food was wasted as the children did not stay to eat the meal. After this, the school authorities spoke to their 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 district administration and they could not interfere,” said Gopi.
Dhara said that she was victimized because of casteist bias and the police must intervene.
School principal Bindiya Ratnotar confirmed the boycott and said that she had held two meetings with the school monitoring committee, which has the parents but they are all being stubborn.
“They do not want to abandon their casteist thinking. We can teach children not to have casteist attitudes and that all are equal and no one is untouchable. Sadly, we cannot convince their parents,” Ratnotar said. District primary education officer (DPEO) Bharat Virja said he was not aware of the matter and would look into the case.