The teachers gathered parents of students and influential people and held a panchayat at the school over the incident.
On July 11, two minor Dalit girls went to their school in Dahirpur village in Uttar Pradesh's Hapur district. They returned after facing harassment at the hands of their teachers— they were beaten up, threatened, and forcefully stripped off their uniforms. One of the girls is 8 years old, the other is 9 years old.
30-year-old Gautam, father of one of the girls, told BOOM that the girls were thrashed when they protested. The teachers threatened to strike off their names from the school register if they told their parents about it. Their uniforms were also torn.
"When I went home in the evening, my daughter was extremely upset. When I asked her what happened, she broke down. She told me that she was thrashed and stripped by her teachers," said Gautam, who works as a carpenter in the village.
During a photo session at the school— Composite Primary School in Dahirpur, the teachers allegedly stripped the Dalit students and handed out the uniforms to other students who were not in their uniforms. As the photo session went on, the two girls were reportedly left without clothes.
A day after the incident, Gautam went to the school to talk to the teachers – Vandana and Sunita, who were accused of stripping and beating the minor girls.
"Madam, the parents hold the highest value in the life of a student and teachers get the second highest value after parents. If you behave with the students in such way, what will be their future?" Gautam asked the teachers.
The teachers, he said, got furious and retorted with "What's the issue if they were stripped?"
BOOM reached out to one of the teachers, Vandana, accused of forcing the girls to take off their uniforms. She rejected all the allegations leveled against her by the family of the girls, and called them "baseless" and "false".
"No such thing happened at the school," she told BOOM. She claimed that the father of the girl is taking revenge for his "personal animosity".
Archana Gupta, Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) of Hapur, who takes care of the primary education in the government schools, told BOOM that they have suspended both the teachers and set up an inquiry into the matter. "The investigation is on," she said.
Discrimination Against Dalits In School
Gautam, who has 6 children, is from the Jatav caste. He says that the harrowing incident happened with his daughter because they are Dalits.
Dalit students often face discrimination and harassment at schools. Many incidents of discrimination and harassment were reported from Uttar Pradesh. In September last year, a principal of a primary school in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi was booked for making Dalit kids sit separately during lunchtime. They alleged that they were beaten up by the headmistress for minor issues.
According to a study conducted by National Dalit Movement for Justice about the states including Uttar Pradesh, Dalit children faced various kinds of discrimination and harassment at schools. The study revealed that Dalit students are made to clean toilets and classrooms while other students are not. They are even forced to clean toilets used by teachers, said a report on the study published in 2017 by The Economic Times.
The report noted that the upper caste students do not get along with SC or ST students. Upper castes students are given space at the front bench of the class, given an extra mid-day meal, and meted out less punishment as compared to Dalit students for coming late to school.
In the case of Dahirpur village where the girls were stripping off their uniforms, the teachers were suspended and booked under various sections of the IPC including the SC/ST act. The FIR was lodged on 18 July, six days after the incident happened.
The FIR was lodged against the two teachers at the Kapurpur police station under Sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 166 (public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 355 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour person, otherwise than on grave provocation) of the IPC and under Section 3 (2) (v) (punishments for offenses of atrocities) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The FIR stated that Gautam verified the incident after talking to other students and they testified to it. A video of the incident also has been recorded, the FIR noted.
"The teachers have socially and legally committed a crime by doing such a disgusting act with the kids. Such a teacher posted in the teaching department is a blot in the name of a teacher who violated the privacy of the children and created an inferiority complex among them. Such teachers don't have legal right to remain in the post of teacher," reads the FIR lodged by Gautam over the incident.
"They Threatened To Kill My Family"
The father of one of the students, Gautam told BOOM that he received death threats when he demanded action against the teachers. Talking to BOOM, he said that he is being pressured to "compromise" in the case and given death threats from the accused and their supporters.
On Saturday, both the teachers gathered 8-10 parents of the kids and influential people and held a panchayat at the school over the incident. At the meeting, Gautam said that he was asked to take back the case. "At the panchayat, they asked me to compromise on the case. They threatened to kill my family if I don't," said Gautam.
The issue got highlighted after Ravikant, President of Shishit Kranti Dal (SKD), raised it on social media. Ravikant told BOOM that the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Vijay Sampla took cognizance of the matter and asked the Hapur police as well as Uttar Pradesh police to inform the commission about the action taken in the matter.
Hapur police replied to the tweet saying that departmental action has been taken in the matter.
Ravikant said that he came to know about the incident on 13 April and then pressured the Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) Archana Gupta to take action in the matter. In the evening, the BSA informed him that the teachers were suspended. However, the teachers continue to go to school even after the suspension.
He also said that the police came into action only after the NCSC chairman took cognizance of the matter and filed the FIR.
"The district police and the administration took this entire matter lightly and tried to hide it. It is their mindset that chamar's children don't have dignity," said Ravikant.
Gautam said that his daughter is scared to go to school now. She hasn't been to school since the incident.
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