MYSURU: Even as the deadlock over the caste row relating to mid-day meals at the government school in Kuppegala village near here continued on Thursday, a group of Dalit leaders from the village went to the office of the Superintendent of Police in Mysuru and submitted a request seeking police protection.
The Dalit leaders, who expressed dissatisfaction over Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s response to the issue, said the failure of the authorities to take action against the persons who had barred children from eating food cooked by a Dalit, had aggravated matters.
“The upper castes now feel emboldened and are hatching a conspiracy to assault the leaders espousing the cause of the Dalits in the village,” alleged Dalit leader M.V. Manjunath.
He was speaking to reporters after submitting a request for police protection to Additional Superintendent of Mysuru district police M. Pradeep Kumar.
“The Chief Minister, who promised to broker peace by talking to both groups, failed to visit the village even though he inaugurated government schemes at Puttegowdanahundi, which is barely 10 km from Kuppegala, on Tuesday. The direction given to the police authorities not to book any case in the matter is tantamount to letting down Dalits,” charged Mr. Manjunath.
The district police, which have stationed a battalion of District Armed Reserve (DAR) in the village, are expected to send Deputy Superintendent of Police Amar Vikram to the village to step up security.
40 students stay away
Meanwhile, teachers and officials of the Department of Public Instruction continued their efforts to convince the ‘upper caste’ parents to send their children to school even on Thursday. “However, about 40 students [of the 150] stayed away from the school today,” Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI), Mysuru, H.R. Basappa said.
A few students brought packed lunches. A total of 104 students attended the school on Wednesday.
A Dalit leader alleged that the Dalit assistant cook was being discouraged from discharging her duty by other cooks in view of the row. “So, she is citing reasons to stay away from the school,” he said.
Dalit leaders from Kuppegala also alleged that social discrimination against Dalits had been going on for a long time with the Muzrai Department’s Anjaneya Swamy temple virtually abandoned after Dalits entered the premises during the Ganesh festival this year.
“There is no priest in the temple now,” a Dalit leader claimed.