SC team visit Kendrapada to discuss mid-day meal
TNN, 31 January 2010, 09:20pm IST
KENDRAPADA: A team of Supreme Court state advisers were shocked to
find schoolchildren refusing to eat the mid-day meal cooked by Dalit
cooks at Sanamarichapali village in Kendrapada's Rajnagar block.
The team on right to food was in the village after reports that upper
caste villagers have prevented two Dalit women from cooking the school
"We spoke to many villagers, including the schoolchildren. We were
shocked when some children belonging to the upper caste told us that
they will not eat the food cooked by a Dalit," a team member Samet
On Tuesday, many students belonging to the upper caste refused to eat
mid-day meal cooked by two Dalit women in Ma Sidha Marichani Nodal
school. Some upper caste people also forcibly locked both the Dalit
cooks, Ketaki Sethi and Sebati Sethi, in a room when they refused to
quit their job as cooks. "Niranjan Pradhan, a member of village
education committee (VEC) and some villagers abused and locked us in a
school room on Tuesday," alleged Ketaki Sethi.
The Ma Ambika Self Help Group (SHG) was entrusted the task of
providing mid-day meal to students. Initially, the SHG appointed two
upper caste women as cooks. But replaced than with Ketaki Sethi and
"The Supreme Court in an interim order on April 20, 2004 had stated
that cooks belonging to SC and ST should be given priority in cooking
the mid-day meals," the state advisor of Supreme Court on right to
food, Rajkishor Mishra, said.
"Police are shielding those who prevented the Dalits from cooking in
the school," president of the district unit of Orissa Dalit Mancha
Nagendra Jena said.
"Police have filed case against Niranjan Pradhan under SC and ST
Atrocity (Prevention ) Act . All the culprits will be arrested soon,"
said the police officer of Rajnagar police station.
Contacted, district collector Sishirkanta Panda, told this paper that
"Social discrimination will not be allowed under any circumstance. We
have started a probe into the matter and will take necessary action."
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