The issue of a nine-year-old Dalit boy’s drowning in a well after allegedly being denied access to drinking water from hand pump of a government primary school in MP’s Damoh district was raised by opposition Congress MLAs in the state assembly on Thursday.
Two Congress MLAs, including Rau (Indore) legislator Jeetu Patwari and Suwasra (Mandsaur) MLA Hardeep Singh Dang raised the issue just when the zero hour started in state assembly. The Congress MLAs duo termed the incident as shocking and shameful and also demanded a high level probe into the matter by the state government.
With the parliamentary affairs minister Narottam Mishra scheduled to make a detailed statement over the Class XII question paper row, the issue could not be raised further by the Congress MLAs during the zero hour.
Later, talking to news persons at least four ministers of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government expressed concern over the burning issue and assured that those responsible won’t be spared.
School education minister Deepak Joshi, while terming the incident as unfortunate, said it first needs to be established who was behind the incident, the school teachers or the villagers living around the school. “If teachers are found responsible they will be dealt severely,” said Joshi.
Minister in-charge for Damoh district Kusum Mehadele, while expressing shock over the incident said the incident needs to be probed thoroughly and a case be lodged against those who are found guilty in the matter.
Women and child development minister Maya Singh also expressed shock over the incident and added that she would see to what best can be done for the family of the deceased boy. The minister for tribal welfare and scheduled caste welfare Gyan Singh said stern action will be taken against those found responsible for the incident.
The nine-year-old Dalit boy Veeran Ahirwar drowned in a well on Tuesday where he had gone to drink water after being denied access to the hand pump in his school in Khamariya Kalan village of Damoh district’s Tendukhera development block.
The victim Veeran Ahirwar’s brother, Sewak, who studies in Class 5 at the same school — the government primary school of Khamariya Kalan village, Tendukhera block — alleged caste discrimination, saying some teachers had refused to let Veeran near the hand pump.
The headmaster of the primary school and the headmistress of the middle school were suspended on Wednesday and action has been initiated against the contractual teachers to terminate their contracts.
The student of class 3, Veeran had just finished his midday meal and gone to the hand pump, said Sewak, where he was stopped by the teachers. Then Veeran and Sewak, along with some other students, decided to go to a nearby well. While trying to draw water Veeran lost his balance, slipped and fell in.
During a preliminary inquiry, a team of officials led by Damoh district panchayat CEO JC Jatiya, were told by members of the Dalit community on Wednesday that their children often faced discrimination at the hands of teachers. The Damoh collector, Sriniwas Sharma, however, ruled out caste-based discrimination having led to the accident. He instead claimed that overcrowding at the school hand pump had forced the children to move to the well near the school.
The Damoh collector added that he would send a detailed investigation report in the matter to the state government soon.
Congress walks out on Board exam paper row
Opposition Congress on the third consecutive day on Thursday created a furore and walked out of the House after they were dissatisfied with legislative affairs minister Narottam Mishra’s answer over the Class 12 Board exam Hindi paper controversy.
Speaker Sitasaran Sharma turned down their plea for a debate on the adjournment motion over a question in Class 12 Board exam Hindi paper, held on March 5, which had an essay on ‘caste-based reservation posing danger to the country’.
Narottam Mishra on Thursday said question papers were set by a paper setter and were then moderated. The paper setter Vandana Vyas works for a private school and disciplinary action cannot be taken against her. However, she has been blacklisted and her honorarium has been stopped. Moderator Santosh Swarnakar who is a senior teacher at a government school has been suspended and further disciplinary action will be taken against him.
The minister also said the question carried 10 marks and has been nullified. The students would now be evaluated on 90 marks instead of 100 and the total marks will be given on a pro-rata basis of scoring.
An inquiry into the incident has also been ordered under additional chief secretary Deepak Khandekar.
Dissatisfied by the answer, Congress member Ramniwas Rawat asked why no action is being taken against the controller of the exams. He said people were being let off lightly by the government.
Rawat said that the matter was serious and the Minister’s reply was wishy-washy. He said that lower ranking officials have been made scapegoats on the issue.
Acting leader of opposition Bala Bachchan then announced a walkout expressing disapproval over the reply.