The nine-year-old Dalit student, who died on Saturday days after he was beaten up at his school in Rajasthan’s Jalore, does not appear to have been thrashed for touching an earthen pot meant for upper caste students and teachers to have water, a police officer said on Tuesday citing preliminary investigation. Jalore police superintendent Harsh Vardhan Agarwalla said the initial probe suggested the allegation that the student was beaten because he drank water from pot does not seem correct. “We have spoken to the students and the teachers, who are also from the [Dalit] Meghwal community but as of now the allegation does look correct.”
Agarwalla said the school has a tank for drinking water for all. He added a report from a forensic science lab was awaited and that the exact cause of death will be clear after a probe.
The boy died at a hospital in Ahmedabad and his family alleged a teacher beat him after seeing him drinking water from the pot.
The death prompted ruling Congress lawmaker Panachand Meghwal to send his resignation to chief minister Ashok Gehlot in protest against atrocities on Dalits.
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker from Jalore Jogeshwar Garg said the accused teacher has been arrested after accepting that he thrashed the student. “But a lot of politics is happening. I appeal to all not to make provocative statements before knowing the truth.”
Garg said police, administration, and the education department were holding inquiries. He claimed the student was not beaten because he drank water from a pot or due to his caste. “On the basis of the feedback…there is still doubt that the student was beaten because of his caste or water. “ He added an upper caste Rajput and a Dalit own the school. “A majority of the students in the school are from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities and so is half of the staff…,” said Garg.
The facts of the case notwithstanding, senior Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot condemned the killing of the Dalit schoolboy for allegedly drinking water from a pot marked for so-called "upper castes", questioning the delay in action against policemen who have been accused of beating the victim's family. "Just because we are in government, we cannot take things for granted," he said.
The incident has set off a new crisis for the Ashok Gehlot government, with criticism from within the party, including the resignation of an MLA. "The government has taken action against the teacher and school. There is some financial compensation also, but what is far more important is that when the boy's body was brought, there was a police lathi-charge on the family and other people who had gathered," Pilot said.
"The father and the grandfather sustained injuries. They are still in fear. I have assured them we will provide all security but clearly, there is a sense of fear in the community," he claimed.
Meanwhile, former minister, Lok Sabha speaker and presidential candidate Meira Kumar reacted with a caustic tweet today to the death of a 9-year-old in Rajasthan. The boy was beaten badly by his teacher for drinking water from a pot meant for the so-called upper castes. Her father, former Deputy Prime Minister and Dalit leader Babu Jagjivan Ram, Meira Kumar said, was beaten for a similar reason a hundred years ago. "Now, 75 years after Independence, India has not changed. Nothing has changed," she
From her father's life, she shared another instance. When Babu Jagjivan Ram, as the deputy prime minister in 1978, had gone to unveil the statue of Sampurnanand, he was humiliated. "Jagjivan, chamar, go away,' they said. And they washed the statue with Ganga Jal. Because it was polluted. So you see, the caste system embraces everyone," she said.