Mysuru: A day after media reported about students becoming victims of a caste war between the Dalits and Vokkaligas at the Higher Primary School in Kuppegala, where Chief Minister Siddaramaiah did his early schooling, several Vokkaliga children turned up at the school and even had their mid-day meal alongside the Dalit children.
Friday’s attendance was in fact up by 35 children. “Yes, the situation has improved significantly and efforts are on to restore normalcy. On Friday, 107 students had lunch while on Thursday, only 82 children came to school,” said school headmaster, Chikkadev.
But the Dalit cook, Manjula, whose presence had triggered the caste conflict, herself did not turn up at the school and the management did not seem to know why.
Member of the School Development Management Committee (SDMC) and local Dalit leader, Manjunath, said the cook had been absent for three days, but had not applied for leave. “We are not able to trace her. We have been told she is unwell and in hospital, ” he added. The school is authorised to appoint three cooks, one of whom one must be a scheduled caste woman, for making the mid-day meal served to the students.
But when it went ahead and appointed a Dalit cook in 2002-03 the upper caste people of the village threatened to keep their children away. So the management buckled and only Lingayat women were appointed cooks later. But six years ago, one of the three Lingayat cooks left and was recently replaced by a Dalit woman under pressure from the lower castes. This set off a caste war again with the Vokkaligas refusing to send their children to the school.