“Being born a scheduled caste is the biggest curse for me.”
These were the last words Pappu Singh Darnal, a 46-year old school teacher in Darjeeling, wrote before he hung himself on Thursday morning.
In a suicide note, scribbled on the page of a 2002 diary and addressed to his wife Vidhya, Darnal, who worked at the Municipal Boy’s School in this hill station, he alleged that one Jiwan Thapa used to regularly insult him for being a scheduled caste.
He further alleged that Thapa was acting at the instigation of one Bimal Rai.
The police have arrested both Thapa and Rai. They have been charged with abatement to suicide.
This is a rare case of caste-based harassment in Bengal. Such cases are more common in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
“They are jealous of my success and my popularity. Looking for cheap publicity, the two always scorn me and mentally torture me. Why in this modern age do schedule castes have to bear such torture?” wrote Darnal.
“I still have faith in the legal process and I sincerely hope that justice will prevail and these two will be taught a lesson,” the teacher wrote to his wife.
On October 13, while Darnal was returning from an exhibition, Thapa had allegedly made disparaging remarks about his caste. When Darnal protested, Thapa, who is handicapped, hit Darnal on the head with his metal crutch. Darnal had to be hospitalised.
“Thapa, along with Rai, allegedly continued making derogatory remarks even after the October 13 incident,” said Indrajit Thapa, inspector-in-charge of the Darjeeling Sadar Thana, the local police station.