18, Aug 2022 | CJP Team
Indra Meghwal, a 9-year-old Dalit boy who was allegedly beaten brutally by his teacher, has succumbed to his injuries. The boy’s family alleges that his teacher beat up the boy for drinking water from a pot that was only meant for “upper caste” people such as the teacher.
The family hails from Surana village in Rajasthan’s Jalore district and the beating took place on July 20. The boy succumbed to his injuries on August 13 in an Ahmedabad hospital, after being taken to at least six other hospitals in the interim.
“My boy, Indra Kumar, was a student of standard three,” said his father Devaram Meghwal in an interview to NDTV. “He tried to drink water from a pot following which his teacher beat him up. We found out when he came back home and saw the injuries to his ears and face. He said the teacher beat him,” said Meghwal. “The beating was so brutal, it led to hemorrhage and my boy’s limbs stopped working. First, we took him to a local hospital, but had to keep shifting him from one hospital to another in nearby villages and districts. We even went to Mehsana and finally Ahmedabad,” he recalled.
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“My nephew died because of his caste. Dalits face inhuman treatment in our region. “Even today, we have to go several kilometres to find barbers who can cut our hair. Ever since we registered the FIR, we have been living in fear for our own safety,” his uncle Kishore Kumar Meghwal told the Indian Express.
The family has pointed fingers at Chail Singh, an “upper caste” teacher who they say was enraged when Indra touched a pot of water meant for the teacher and proceeded to brutally thrash the boy. Singh was arrested on Saturday after the child’s death, and the police have taken statements of his classmates and other students present on that day.
Shockingly, police say they haven’t found a “caste angle” to the death.
Jalore SP Harsh Vardhan Agarwalla told the publication, “We are investigating the allegation that the boy was beaten up because he drank from a certain pot, and are also interrogating people from the school. But our preliminary investigation hasn’t proved this allegation.”
But the family has found support in local political leaders, one of whom, Congress MLA from Baran-Atru, Pana Chand Meghwal, resigned saying he was “hurt at the constant atrocities being committed upon Dalits and the marginalised, even after 75 years of Independence”. Bairwa, another Congress MLA from Baseri in Dholpur, who is also the Rajasthan Scheduled Caste Commission chairman visited the family and now appears less inclined to believe the police’s findings. He told IE, “The police’s factual report that was sent to us said there was no caste angle. But after talking to people here, I know that is the reason… If police are trying to suppress the motive, I will recommend the suspension of the entire police station.”
Dalit leader and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati has also demanded justice for the child. In a Hindi language tweet she said, “No amount of condemnation for this heartbreaking act is enough.” She also demanded President’s rule be imposed in Rajasthan, claiming that the Congress government had failed to protect the oppressed and marginalized people of the state.
1. राजस्थान के जालौर जिले के सुराणा में प्राइवेट स्कूल के 9 साल के दलित छात्र द्वारा प्यास लगने पर मटके से पानी पीने पर सवर्ण जाति के जातिवादी सोच के शिक्षक ने उसे इतनी बेरहमी से पीटा कि कल उसकी इलाज के दौरान मौत हो गई। इस हृदय विदारक घटना की जितनी निन्दा व भर्त्सना की जाए वह कम।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) August 14, 2022
2. राजस्थान में आएदिन ऐसी जातिवादी दर्दनाक घटनाएं होती रहती हैं। इससे स्पष्ट है कि कांग्रेस की सरकार वहाँ खासकर दलितों, आदिवासियों व उपेक्षितों आदि के जान व इज्जत-आबरू की सुरक्षा करने में नाकाम है। अतः इस सरकार को बर्खास्त कर वहाँ राष्ट्रपति शासन लगाया जाये तो बेहतर।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) August 14, 2022
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani has also called out the caste-based crime:
On Tuesday, August 16, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took suo motu cognizance and sent notices to the chief secretary and the Director General of Police (DGP), Rajasthan. The NHRC has sought a detailed report, including present status of the police investigation, as well as action taken against the teacher. A news agency quoted an excerpt from the NHRC’s notice: “Apart from the status of payment of the statutory relief under provisions of the SC/ST Act, the Commission would like to know from the state government as to what steps have been taken or proposed to be taken to ensure that such inhuman and cruel acts are not done with the vulnerable sections of the society, including SC and ST.”
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, met with Jignesh Mewani in Ahmedabad and on Thursday, August 18, announced monetary compensation for the family.
SC-ST एक्ट की मुआवजा राशि व मुख्यमंत्री सहायता कोष से सहायता राशि दी गई। इसके अतिरिक्त AICC के निर्देश पर पीड़ित परिवार को 20 लाख रुपये की आर्थिक मदद प्रदेश कांग्रेस कमिटी द्वारा दी जा रही है।
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) August 18, 2022