A nine-year-old Dalit boy from Rajasthan’s Jalore district died on Saturday after he was allegedly beaten by his teacher for drinking from an earthen pot meant for people from the upper castes.
The incident happened on July 20, following which the boy was hospitalised for treatment, and he succumbed to his injuries on Saturday afternoon, according to the police complaint lodged by the family.
Dewaram Meghwal, father of the boy, told Outlook that his son studied in third class at Saraswati Vidya Mandir, a private school, in Jalore. He said that his son wanted to quench his thirst but he instead lost his life.
“My son would have been alive today had he known that the pot he is drinking water from was meant for the upper castes. He wanted to quench his thirst but he lost his life instead. He was killed because of the prevailing caste discrimination,” said Meghwal.
Meghwal is a resident of Surana village in Jalore. He alleged that the teacher hit his son on eyes and ears.
“My son, a student at Saraswati Vidya Mandir in Jalore, a private school, in third class, was beaten up by his teacher Chail Singh because he drank water from an earthen pot meant for upper castes. The teacher abused my son and hit him on eyes and ears and abused him with casteist slurs,” said Meghwal.
The family’s police complaint says that the incident took place on July 20 and the boy was bleeding from ear and his condition deteriorated. It adds that he was first admitted to hospitals in Jalore and then Udaipur before he was referred to a private hospital in Ahmedabad where he succumbed to injuries on Saturday afternoon.
Superintendent of Police of Jalore Harsh Vardhan Agarwalla, who is investigating the case, confirmed that the teacher has been arrested and charged with murder and sections of the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
He said, “The case against the teacher Chail Singh has been lodged under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST Act. The boy's post-mortem will be conducted in Ahmedabad.”
The incident grabbed eyeballs on social media where Dalit rights activists and several political leaders have demanded harsh punishment for the teacher.
शिक्षा के तथाकथित मंदिर ही जातिगत भेदभाव और अत्याचार के अड्डे बन गये हैं.कथित गुरुजन हत्यारे ! जालोर जिले के सुराणा में 20 जुलाई को तीसरी कक्षा के छात्र इंद्र मेघवाल द्वारा पानी का मटका छू लेने पर अध्यापक छैल सिंह द्वारा इतनी पिटाई की गई कि वह गंभीर रूप से घायल हो गया (1) pic.twitter.com/vFtuzGgT29— Bhanwar Meghwanshi (@bhanwarmegh) August 13, 2022
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot expressed grief over the incident in a series of tweets on Saturday night.
“The death of a student due to being beaten by teacher in Rajasthan's Sayla Police Station limits is unfortunate. The accused teacher has been arrested and has been charged with murder and SC/ST Act,” said Gehlot on Twitter in Hindi.
He added, “The case has been taken under case officer scheme to process it quickly and for early punishment of the guilty. Justice at the earliest will be ensured to the bereaved family. The diseased boy’s family will be given Rs 5 lakh from the CM Relief Fund.”
मामले के त्वरित अनुसंधान एवं दोषी को जल्द सजा हेतु प्रकरण को केस ऑफिसर स्कीम में लिया गया है। पीड़ित परिवार को जल्द से जल्द न्याय दिलवाना सुनिश्चित किया जाएगा। मृतक के परिजनों को 5 लाख रुपये सहायता राशि मुख्यमंत्री सहायता कोष से दी जाएगी।— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) August 13, 2022
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajasthan has also slammed Gehlot’s government over the child’s death.
“It's the CM and Congress government who are responsible for the death of a boy from the Dalit community. There is lawlessness in the state and the CM, who also happens to be the Home Minister, is responsible,” tweeted BJP state president Satish Poonia.
सुराणा, जालोर के नौ वर्ष के विद्यार्थी इंद्र मेघवाल की ऐसी क्या गलती थी कि उसे पीटकर गहरे जख्म दिए जिससे उसकी मौत हो गई? इसका जिम्मेदार कौन है? मुख्यमंत्री जी आपके राज में एक वंचित वर्ग का छात्र सुरक्षित नहीं है। पीड़ित परिवार की सहायता कर दोषियों पर शीघ्र कार्यवाही करनी चाहिए।— Satish Poonia (@DrSatishPoonia) August 13, 2022
Following the incident, the state education department has demanded an inquiry into the matter. Two officials deputed by the education department shall probe the matter and submit a report to the block education officer.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan Scheduled Castes Commission has also ordered that the case will be taken up under the case officer’s scheme for speedy investigation.
The mobile internet in Jalore and nearby areas has been suspended in wake of the sensitive situation.