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Bihar: Brahmins bar Dalit woman from cooking mid-day meal
Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna | August 11, 2007 12:27 IST
In a shocking case which exposes the prevalence of untouchability in rural India, a Dalit woman was prevented from cooking mid-day meals for students at a government-run school in Bihar. The incident took place at Pipri, a village traditionally dominated by Brahmins in Roktas district.
"I was warned, abused, assaulted and forcibly stopped from cooking mid-day meals by the upper caste Brahmins of my village," Lalita Devi told rediff.com.
"They targeted me because I belong to an untouchable class," she added.
No mid-day meal has been cooked in the school for the last two months, after the Brahmins announced a ban on serving food cooked by a Dailt woman.
"I was dragged out of the school kitchen and my husband was assaulted and threatened with dire consequences by the Brahmins. I am waiting for justice, but the government is yet to take any steps about the issue," said Devi.
Devi was appointed as a cook by the Mahila Samkhya Society, which is in charge of implementing the mid-day meal scheme under the Bihar Education Project at the village level.
A five-member committee, comprising four Dalit women, was constituted by the society to monitor the mid-day meal scheme in the Pipri school. Of the 87 students in the school, 39 are Dalits.
"The Brahmins didn't like this decision. They have been opposing it since the very beginning," said Haria Manjhi, a Dalit villager.
Lalita Devi has filed a police complaint about the issue. In her complaint, she has stated that the school committee's secretary Uma Shankar Tiwari and his upper-caste henchmen have warned her not to cook mid-day meals for students.
"Tiwari and his men damaged the hearth and took away all the cooking utensils," added Devi.